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Smiling in the face of hardship

Kivalliq heroes offer inspiration

In the first week of January, we covered stories of two people in extremely difficult situations: Ernie Eetak, who lost his hands in a blizzard, and Alexandra Rudd, who is battling stage 4 brain cancer.

The first couldn’t stop giggling during his interview, and the second is still posting charming TikTok cooking videos. Their good spirits are remarkable and inspiring.

It begs the question of how much our reality is influenced by our mindset.

We know we’re experiencing depression when we can objectively look at our life and admit nothing is seriously wrong, but we still feel awful.

With clinical depression, chemical imbalances override any rational assessments.

Eetak and Rudd have every reason in the world to feel terrible, but they sure don’t come off like they do.

Whether they are simply putting on a brave face or not, the mere fact that they can present a brave face is inspiring.

These stories tend to generate a lot of hits and interest online precisely because the ability to remain positive in such circumstances seems unbelievable to most people.

For most of us, we hope not to be part of the rare statistics we see on the news: the ones who suffer from serious ailments, accidents and natural disasters that change the course of their lives.

Those who do face those challenges and remain smiling despite them earn heroic status in our eyes.

But perhaps it is in the human condition to “keep on keeping on” no matter what.

We are not, in an evolutionary sense, geared to be happy and content, even if everything is going well. We are geared for survival, adaptation and growth.

Eetak and Rudd have been dealt difficult cards, but they are doing what is in their nature to not let that stop them and adapt to their circumstances.

For Rudd, she is advocating for brain tumour research and funding so others don’t have to go through what she’s experienced. Eetak may have lost his hands, but he doesn’t plan to stop doing the things he loves, namely hunting.

Their cards have changed, but they’re still playing the game of life with full commitment.

Even understanding all of that, I find it hard to imagine myself coping so well in their shoes.

Although I can rationalize that some of their determination comes from natural evolutionary processes, I’m not sure I could hold myself together so well.

Even if survival mechanisms are driving their positivity, they are still clearly heroes regardless, and it is amazing to have two examples of such strength right here in the Kivalliq.

Should I find myself in similar circumstances, I will remember their stories.