(Issue #516) Perspective  

“We have the ability to either give into our misery and pain and die.
Or absorb the physical pain and keep our mentality, our soul….”
—Aaron Elser

Comparatory suffering comes fraught with problems. It can be a cliched way to make someone feel better. “It could be worse,” also, can be dismissive of the person in front of you and her problem or challenge. A dead end for conversation or the healing process.

At times, though, thoughtful contrast of a given situation with another may help shift to a healthier perspective.

As I type, our nation (the world) is in the throes of a pandemic. Our community, like so many others (see…a bit of comparison there…), have seen daily routines turned upside down and inside out.  For instance, the rhythms of life have transitioned from mobility to shelter in place.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli @ Atlantic Beach, Florida.

I’ve heard people say they are bored, or miss their workplace, or struggle to get online and stay engaged with their children’s school classes. Some miss their families who live in other states. And, some have understandable concerns about a family member’s wellbeing.

Each brings a different perspective.

A recent 60 Minutes episode, “Talking to the Past,” explored memories and experiences of Holocaust survivors.  All of the stories spoke to horror—and resilience.  One of the interviewees, Aaron Elser (spelling?), shared how, when the Nazi’s came for his family, his father sent him running into a sewer to escape. He was nine years old. He made it to a neighbor’s home where they sheltered him for two years. In their attic. He existed there with only one visit a day (food was brought to him).

How did he survive the fear and loneliness? In his words, “We have the ability to either give into our misery and pain and die. Or absorb the physical pain and keep our mentality, our soul….”

Beyond perhaps fear and anxiety, there is little comparison to what Mr. Elser, his family, and neighbors experienced and what those of us asked to shelter in place feel during this pandemic. His words shook me. They reminded that, yes, this could be worse. Much worse. He moved me back to a healthier perspective.


Video Recommendation for the Week

Click here for the CBS 60 Minutes segment mentioned above.  Mr. Elser’s comments can be heard in various parts of the episode.  Around 13:11 and again at 19:20 he talks of the separation from his family—and his determination.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

About stevepiscitelli

Facilitator-Author-Teacher
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