I really don't know why the things that people have to deal with in their lives happen, but because they do I believe the best approach is to simply deal as well as you can. I had a student last year who had rods in her back to straighten her spine and she taught me so much about dealing with adversity and maintaining a positive attitude while making life count. I had to dedicate my last art-making of this school year to her as I laid out a cyanotype from an x-ray negative to burn while I loaded my car with my stuff to work with over the summer. It really was the very last thing I did and I will embellish it into a mixed media piece over the summer. I need to think about why our bodies succumb to tragedy so often, whether it be mind, muscle or bone and look back at the strengths it creates within individuals. If it weren't for the obstacles in life, it would seem that life would not be as interesting for us humans. The process of creativity adds even more to our lives.
Defense mechanisms? What do we have to defend ourselves from? Emotional damage is always a "biggie", but why put out those sharp barbs like the thistle plant to keep others at bay? Obviously the thistle doesn't want to get eaten any more than people want to be hurt by others, but we are often hurt by circumstance and not others. I think the trick is to trust in the inherent goodness of all (that does exist, believe it or not) and understand that what may seem to be "hurtful" can be part of circumstance or even filtered by our own attitudes. Real is real.
I saw a butterfly in the middle of the road today, just lighting there where the white line begins as I took a left onto the Mud Creek road. It was a beautiful yellow thing, and as I passed it another car was coming toward me and I momentarily worried about how it would fare, but as I looked into the rear view mirror I saw it flutter up and fly off to the side of the road. Something in me knew it would be a good day, and it was.