The Art of Recovery

Pictured with ‘George Harrison’ at Abbey Road Studios, London.

Finding our feet, stretching our legs, and dusting down our face-to-face social skills have coincided with the gradual lifting of restrictions within the UK, as we’ve collectively battled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us have stories to tell of how we lived through the past 18 months and faced the frustrations, dealt with loss, and faced-up to harsh realities.

Survival and recovery are hard-wired into most of humankind, and the rest of the natural world. However, as our living environment and particularly society in the modern world has become more prosperous, comfortable, and predictable, the impact when major upsets happen in our lives can be surprisingly shocking and debilitating. Having to resort to more primal survival and recovery strategies, we can sometimes struggle as we’re not quite as ‘match-fit’ to respond as we might like.

The plethora of advice that exists from self-help books, councillors, guides, therapists, and mentors often agrees that recovery from a huge life setback requires a time of reflection – understanding what happened, scrutinising your own thoughts and actions at the time, dissecting the factors you had control over and those you didn’t, reconciling all those different aspects within yourself, and ultimately learning from the experience. Then taking the next steps, by designing a plan (using SMART goals + newly gained insights) to help plot and navigate your way to improving your situation and stage a full recovery.

Recognising the maxim that ‘All things must pass’ provides great help in driving our motivation and gives us that much needed boost to not give up hope. Its sobering call to see our world and life as it is can give us the strength to commit to make the changes we need to, and follow them through to their conclusion. It reassures us that although our existence is in constant flux circumstances can change, our situation can be improved, and our ‘tough times’ will eventually end. Equally, it awakens us to the temporary nature of our situation and reminds us to be ever watchful and aware that nothing is guaranteed forever, stressing our responsibility to remain awake and consciously tend to our duties and wellbeing in a way that helps us survive, adapt and prosper in a fluctuating, ever-changing world.

I recently attended Abbey Road Studios’ 90th Anniversary in London, where George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ album was also being marked as it celebrated its 50th Anniversary (in 2020) this year. A newly remastered version of the former Beatle’s opus continues to inspire and remind us of what’s important in life, as well present us with George’s talent for songwriting and conveying very moving, thought-provoking messages. The lyrics to the album’s title song possess a simple yet poetic depth that soothes and helps us reset our perspective as we look at Life and review our own situation and journey through it. The lyrics read:

“All Things Must Pass”

Sunrise doesn’t last all morning
A cloudburst doesn’t last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away

Sunset doesn’t last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this, my love is up and must be leaving
It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So, I must be on my way
And face another day

Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It’s not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away

The lyrics positivity point at the cyclic nature of life highlighting that things will naturally get better, while counter-balancing with the reminder that everything is destined to pass away eventually. To some this stark flipside of his uplifting reassurance may be uncomfortable and unsettling, and dare I suggest that’s partly why George Harrison shared them. Not to upend or strike fear into people but to awaken everyone so they could calmly contend with life in a more knowing, wiser, resilient way. Seeing the reality of a situation, and having that revelation of greater understanding suffused with new insights – be it facing a challenging health issue, looking at a collapsing business, enduring a major financial loss, losing a job, reeling from a betrayal or enduring harmful actions from another person, coming to terms with a loss of a dear one, or a relationship dissolving and coming to an untimely end – can in fact provide the necessary remedy and resolve one needs to make renewed efforts to ‘get back on your feet’ and start to ‘bounce back’.

Accepting and intuitively knowing that all things must pass, helps us overcome the illusion of permanence, and strengthens our resilience and ability to continue to evolve with a new and smarter perspective. It encourages a challenging and flexible mindset, which shakes out a sedentary or fixed way of being, and in doing so helps empower us to cope and respond better to the new challenges we face, and the ever-changing environments in which we find ourselves.

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