Stronger

RWS Strength CardFriedrich Nietzsche has been getting a lot of airplay on contemporary radio recently.  Kanye West had a hit with his song “Stronger,” which paraphrased Nietzsche, “now that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger.”

Recently Kelly Clarkson hit the charts with “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger).”  Her lyrics are similar; “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, walk a little taller.”

It’s no surprise that during a difficult recession our artists inspire us with this ancient philosophy.  We need to be inspired, we need to remember our strength, and we need to find some value in the hardship that many are facing.

Often, when we think about Nietzsche’s phrase, we think about difficult things that have happened to us, or the wrongs that have been perpetrated against us.

Sometimes, though, we are our own worst enemies.  Sometimes the thing that makes us stronger is the mistakes we make.

No one likes to make mistakes.  So often people blame themselves for misfortune that isn’t their fault.  Sometimes, though, we need to own our mistakes and focus on their lessons, rather than on our regrets.

Another piece of quotable (though less highbrow) wisdom is the expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  That may be true for dogs, but it isn’t true for people.  We can always learn, and always grow, no matter how old we are, or how much we have already endured.

When I was a child, my grandmother encouraged me to say the following phrase upon waking each day.  “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”  At the time, I thought it was corny.  What kid wouldn’t?  Now, I find it a valuable tool.  Even though I am a middle-aged adult, I am still growing every day, and getting better every day.  We all are.

This is true, not in spite of, but because of the difficulty, mistakes and problems we have faced – the things that haven’t kill us have made us stronger.

In tarot, the “Strength” card is a picture of a woman who has tamed a lion.  Sometimes we see that lion as our anger, or our fierce wild nature.  Although the lion is strong, the gentle woman is stronger.  She has faced her lion, and she has tamed him.  The lion did not kill her.  The lion made her stronger.

Whatever your “lion” is today, know that you can face your lion.  No matter what difficulties you have suffered, you will be stronger because of the lessons they teach you.  Nietzsche knew this.  Kanye and Kelly know this.  The tarot knows it.  It’s true for all of us.