Stewing over resilience

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
When in doubt, drink tea. When in evenings, when in joy, when in long-distance communion with old friends. Not sure of the question? Tea may be the answer, writes Liz Breslin.

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
I was reminded of this truth last week in Dunedin when I came across the paje curcumin tea installation that is part of the Opavivara collective exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. It has many teas for many of life’s conditions, attractively dried in wooden tessellations, and there is plenty of time to read the accompanying brochure while you are waiting for your little glass pot to brew, resisting the urge to refresh your mobile newsfeed about fire, terrorism and denial. Refresh is a terrible word in this context. Hibiscus tea is refreshing. Paralysis by notification, not so much.

Take chamomile or rosemary for anxiety, says the brochure. Elderberry for self-esteem, trust and expansion of the senses. French oak for strength, endurance and loyalty. I took my time to sip and read. I have been in a love affair with coffee for way too long and haven’t stopped to think how much I need all the teas for all the things. So necessary, so nurturing. So soothing. Also, almost as calming as the sight of my tea-water turning blush was the absolute lack of the word ‘‘resilience’’ in any of the descriptions of the teas.

Because if I could have a least favourite word of the last decade, it would be resilience. (OK, actually it would be ‘‘moist’’, which is my least favourite word, not just of the last ten years, but of forever and ever and ever amen.) I am so sick of the narrative that we need more resilience in the world. More nuance, yes. More listening. More sea time. More tea. But please no more of this nauseatingly buzzwordy quasi-stoic panacea.

Flex your resilience and you can show what a great human being you are by expanding your personal ability to cope with bad times. Pat yourself on the back about being able to bounce back from challenges, forget about those few hours you tasted the ash.

Modern-day resilience might be packaged as an excellent coping strategy, but we don’t need coping. We need change. We need rage and action and honesty. Proper human connections. And tears, and a million mental reruns of that scene where Jyn and Cassian sit on the beach of Scarif, knowing that the Death Star is going to get them. Except it’s us on that beach and have we done all we can to send plans to the rebels and what does love look like at the end of the world?

It wasn’t exactly the end of the world this week, but I did have some very unresilient beach moments of my own over the post-surf flyaway of my daughter’s only-twice-worn wetsuit somewhere between Brighton and Waihola. It was riding on the front of the van, has white bits under the arms and presumably, now, tyre marks.

I know, I know. It’s not really a summer break unless you leave something behind, and it’s just a selfish first world story I’m telling myself that finding it would make everything better (except the fires and the liars and the terrorism and the bigots and the deniers and colonialism and the patriarchy and all the people, so many people, who prioritise economies over lives, and the sidelining of Rose in The Rise of Skywalker and all the other things I can’t list because, word limit).

But a girl can dream. And rage about privileged resilience And drink all the tea. It’s not like I’m breaking up with coffee but at times like these it’s good to know that common yarrow has got my back for emotional structure and integrity and a cup of plantain tea is a viable alternative to taking up smoking again.



New French Insult.

'Your mother took French oak and your father smelt of self esteem!'

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