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Brace Yourself: This Makes You Sad Before It Makes You Glad

pablo_nerudaThe poet’s job is to make us reflect, challenge our assumptions, hold a mirror up to ourselves. Sometimes that’s not a pleasant feeling. It can be one of those “it has to get worse before it gets better” types of painful experiences.

The effect of “hormesis” in biology is that when a human being – and many other organisms – is exposed to small but significant toxins and stressors, the organism adapts and becomes stronger and more resilient.

Consider this poem from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904 to 1973) as a “hermetic stressor.” Like some vegetables that you don’t like at first. Maybe try a daily dose for a week or two.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.