People love stories of restoration, retribution, and revival. Each culture has their own stories and symbols for a story of coming back from grave adversity. Life is not without suffering, at times, to the very point of no return. There are stories, though, where a fire dies and darkness seemingly prevails, but, deep beneath the kindling, an ember still burns. If an ember still burns, we can be filled with the hope that a fire can ignite once more, if certain conditions (and maybe a little luck), are met. I think we are fascinated with these stories because it gives us a very powerful form of inspiration; hope. The hope that we, too, can come back from difficult times.
If we have that we can return from the depths of adversity, that hope can turn into belief, and the belief of self is one of the most powerful characteristics to start a transformation; it can create a spark. This spark can either ignite a fire or, as a lighter out of fluid, merely spark and die out. The spark serves as potential. It takes more than a story to create real fire, you need fuel, proper environmental conditions, and something to keep the fire from dying.
These sparks can come from a variety of sources, reflected in culture.
Cultural symbols of revival
It’s important to think about symbology when it comes to changing your life because when our minds are able to create a relationship through examples, we are more able to understand a certain process.
The Ouroboros: Depicted as a serpent eating itself, symbolizing the act of life ending and starting anew. Carl Jung took this from the mythological world to the psychological world to examine how man gives himself through new life through fertilization.
The Phoenix: Most of us are aware of the symbol of a bird who perishes by flame and is born again by fire.
We see revival in a variety of processes through nature as well. The act of animals molting their former skins and creating new ones, or, at times, creating metamorphosis to become something greater and more beautiful than before.
In always any religious text, we can see rebirth as a constant theme, often times with a savior figure having to suffer before returning with a stronger foundation.
So, what is the point of looking at cultural symbols to think about revival? When I thought about stories of people shedding adversity and renewing their sense of self, in the same way that I did, these cultural reflections seemed to float to the foreground, not solely because we all have opportunities to start a new life, but moreso for the moment of death that happens in revival.
When we die
I talk about the moment I stepped on the scale several years ago, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, that moment, something died in me. The piece of me that died was the barrier I kept around myself. It would be many months before I had any sort of breakthrough that I was changing, but, I don’t think that the stories of revival we hear, there is an awareness that death and rebirth is happening.
Of course, this concept is speaking as a metaphor, whereas the themes moving forward on this project will be paying careful attention to language in concepts. I thought this first week would embrace a narrative that many connect with and desire for themselves.
With that said, narratives and stories will be an integral part of trying to inspire others to create their own change; turn that spark into a fire. Keeping closer to a literal sense of the concept of revival, the story of Moise Brutus shows a young man who almost lost it all, including his life, and was left his only part of himself when he came back from a motorcycle accident. He had less than a 1% chance of survival. He talks about his depression and how he had a chance to stay in depression or become something more. He did not let this become his story. Through support groups, care providers, outdoor rehab, cycling, and a dog were all aspects to his comeback. Moise’s story is an inspiration, and to come out of such a traumatic event at such a young age and pull himself through to the aspiration of competing in the Paralympics is a true story of revival.