The Blessing in Adversity

By: Michael Angier


"The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist, the opportunity in every difficulty."
When I was about five years old, I lived with my family in Enterprise, Alabama for a few months while my father attended an advanced aviation course at nearby Fort Rucker.
What makes Enterprise, Alabama especially memorable is a strange monument they have in the middle of town. You can't miss it. In fact, you have to drive around it because it sits right in the middle of the road. The monument is a statue to the boll weevil.
It's probably the only monument in the world erected in honor of an insect. It certainly wasn't done because of its aesthetic value-the boll weevil is a particularly ugly-looking creature. Surprisingly, it was erected because of the devastation the boll weevil caused to the cotton crops of the surrounding area.
Why did they honor this pest? Well, had it not been for the boll weevil, the local economy would have continued its unhealthy dependence on its one-crop, one-product economy.
Until then, everything depended entirely on cotton. When the boll weevil came, the farmers and all the other businesses that were reliant on the cotton farmers were forced to recognize the need to diversify.
In the long run, they saw that the boll weevil had, in fact, done them a favor by destroying their crops. No longer were their eggs all in one "cotton basket." They started raising hogs, peanuts and other cash crops, and the entire area was better off for it.
I think it is to those southern farmers' great credit that they were able to see this "adversity" for what it really was-a great blessing. Too often, we see difficult times as something to avoid-something only to endure. We usually don't see the benefit until much later-if at all.
If we look back at the things in our lives that were the most trying, the most painful and frustrating, we have to admit that there was value in it. If you can't see this, you're either too close to the situation or are too upset to see clearly.
Our lives are far more enjoyable-certainly more instructional-if we view each thing that happens to us as just that-a happening.
Remember, it's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that makes the difference in the quality of our lives. I believe that everything that happens can be a lesson; every adversity can be a blessing. The following story illustrates this well.
Anthony Burgess discovered he had a brain tumor and only six months to live when he was 40 years old. He was distressed that he had nothing to leave his wife who was soon to become a widow. He decided to write-something he'd always wanted to do. The potential royalty from a book was the only thing he could think of doing to leave any kind of financial security for his family.
By the end of the first year and with no certainty that he would ever be published, he finished five novels. But he did not die. His cancer went into remission and then disappeared altogether.
In his long and full life, Anthony Burgess went on to write more than 70 books. Without the death sentence from cancer, he might not have written anything.
Next time things don't seem to be going the way you want, ask yourself what the positive aspect is. What's the benefit in the adversity?
You'll have greater enjoyment and learn more in the process.

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