Imagine...Being Inspired by the Resilience of Others

The Imagine Project can instill confidence in your ability to survive trauma

Posted May 28, 2013

Over the past 6 months in this country, there has been a series of especially horrific events and news stories. Three that come to mind are the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the imprisonment of three young women, abducted about a decade ago in Cleveland. Of course, the directly affected individuals and families are enduring a nightmare of trauma. But even if you aren’t directly affected, your empathy may run so deep that you are traumatized just by hearing these news stories. Practicing good mental health means not exposing yourself to the horrifying details. Still, it’s disconcerting when it’s hard to imagine that you—or anyone else—could ever be able to pick up the pieces when life is shattered by such tragedy.

And yet, you would. For reassurance and evidence of your innate ability to triumph over tragedy, look no further than The Imagine Project

The Imagine Project

The Imagine Project book cover

There, you can read stories like these:

Imagine… at a young age, being abandoned by your parents, eventually living in a dumpster behind your high school, and in spite of these desperate circumstances, being academically ranked in the top ten of your class, and becoming a successful college graduate and entrepreneur at age 24.

Imagine… being a doctor in a hospital, pulling a midnight shift on the night of a terrible mass shooting, treating victims with ghastly life-threatening wounds, and realizing you were privileged to witness an amazing medical team effort and miracles of survival.

Imagine… pursuing your dream of coaching at the highest level of the game, only to have that dream go up in smoke, and then 20 years later, taking a chance and saying yes to coaching a Paralympic team, whose athletes rely on wheelchairs, and learning from them that disability doesn’t erase the ability to live life to its fullest.

Imagine… losing your three-year-old son to a drive-by shooting, then during the trial, forgiving the troubled teenager who fired the gun, testifying for juvenile sentencing reform before the Supreme Court, eventually meeting this now-grown man, and discovering that to him, you’ve been the suppotive mother he never had, and embracing him as if he were your own son.

Karina Sanchez

Karina Sachez "imagines"

What do all these stories have in common? They are stories of resilience— enduring a trauma or misfortune and coming out the other side stronger, better, grateful, and making a real difference in the world.

And what do these people have in common?

They are ordinary people who are living extraordinary lives.

You can meet these people and read their stories, among dozens of others, in the new book by The Imagine Project, created by Dianne Maroney. Through her work, Dianne discovered that when people tell their stories by inviting others to Imagine…, they also invite empathy and understanding, and often become a source of inspiration.

Karina Sanchez

Karina Sanchez; dumpster she used to call "home."

So for instance, through the stories above, we can see inside a homeless teen’s world and admire her fortitude and perseverance against all odds. We can feel for the health care practitioners who must deal with the heartrending casualties of violence, and we are reminded to look for silver linings. We can identify with having career dreams dashed, and we are inspired to say “yes” even when skeptical of an alternative. We witness a mother’s grief and humbled by her ability to forgive, we align ourselves with her aspiration to advocate for those who may have wronged us but are themselves victims of social ills or unfortunate circumstances.

In all, the book features 40 people from all walks of life. It fills the reader with hope for humanity, that in spite of the rubble and ruin that is frequently wrought, sparks of courage, perseverance, compassion, and open-mindedness will prevail and carry us into a bright future. Consistent with this message, the book is simple to read, elegantly designed, and visually stunning, with soul-baring portraits by talented photographer Mario Massiti.

Sharletta Evans

Sharletta Evans, advocate for juvenile justice reform

Reading this book has another side effect: it can inspire you to reflect on your own life— the trials endured, traumas survived, challenges met, lessons learned, and transformations resulting. If you visit the website, you’ll see an invitation to write your own story. Doing so can be a therapeutic experience that builds confidence, self-respect, gratitude, and appreciation for  your personal strengths, priorities, and growth. You can also read stories submitted by others, a new one showcased weekly.

Enduring terrible trauma is unimaginable yes, but take heart. Like all humans, you hold an innate ability to survive, prevail, and even thrive following trauma, tragedy, or tribulation. Some of us come by this ability more easily than others, but we all carry this potential, and you can tap into it, if and when you need to.