Adversity Makes you Wiser

Eventually the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” will strike you or someone or something that you love. The adversity or tragedy will be deeply personal. It will appear in a variety of forms – accident, loss, death, indignity, cruelty, desecration, brutality and desolation.

Grief, anger, fear and despair are understandable reactions.

But adversity can also make you wiser.

Here are three reasons:

1) Adversity demands your ingenuity. You must do something because no one else is or will. You try anything, borrow anything, cobble together anything. You try at any hour of the day and night until something works. Then you get up the next morning and do it all again because you think you can make it even better. You act with a focus and creativity that you never thought you had. 

2) Adversity cracks you open. Suddenly you see the world as it is, not as you thought it to be or want it to be. You embrace its complexities, pain, surprises, destruction, ugliness, kindness and beauty with a love that you never thought possible. You become open hearted.

3) Adversity invites you to rethink sacrifice.  You come to understand that sacrifice doesn’t deprive. It endows. That letting go of certain comforts and parts of your lifestyle is both necessary and worth it in order for your life, the life of those you love and indeed all life to survive and thrive.

This is not to romanticize pain and suffering but to honour it. To legitimate it. To bear witness to it. To learn from it.

Adversity doesn’t miss anyone. It can be your teacher if you let it.


I want to be part of something bigger. There is so much hurt in this province (Saskatchewan) in so many ways, particularly with the First Nations community. There is so much tragedy and affliction in this world and they don’t get the attention they deserve sometimes. I have no idea what this is going to look like, but I want to start a movement of some sort. People are hurting in this province with the whole Colten Boushie trial and it’s time that people reach out. From hurt can come good. ~ Celeste Leray-Leicht who lost her oldest son,19 year old Jacob in the hockey bus crash that killed 16 people from Humboldt Saskatchewan on April 6th.

Musical selection this post is Somewhere Between by Saskatchewan’s Jeffery Straker. Isn’t he a talent? Check out all his music. I could have chosen a dozen for this post. Move over Elton John. Do support his music by purchasing it.


The World Needs More Peacemakers not Social Innovators

Easy Sell

Death’s Tug of War with Mystery and Science

Percé Rock and the Crumbling Patriarchy

Confessions of a Non Swimmer in the Currents of Culture

Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery

Artisans for the Common Good

A Bystander’s Guide to Civility in a Time of Rage

Visit to browse Canada’s largest collection of quotes about social change, curated by Al Etmanski.

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  1. Derek Masselink

    Agreed! In his book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” Malcom Gladwell discusses the concept of desirable difficulty and how some people benefit from challenges. The degree to which this remains true depends on the nature and degree of the challenge and the ability of the individual to remain resilient.

    • Al Etmanski

      Thanks Derek. I haven’t read that book so thanks for reference. Everyday, everywhere people deal with adversity with ingenuity. It happens far more often than people think. Once you start paying attention you see it everywhere.

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