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The Triumph of Perseverance

February 26, 2013 - Meg Alexander
I love "Calvin & Hobbes." I have since I was a kid, but now that I'm an adult, I appreciate the irony so much more. One comic I read recently made me laugh and cringe, which is my favorite kind of humor, the kind that shines a light on the absurdity of human behavior. In this particular strip, Calvin announces he is making a “monumental, heroic snow sculpture,” and he will call it, "The Triumph of Perseverance."

"Very inspiring. What will it look like?" Hobbes asks.

"This," Calvin says, pointing to a round ball of snow.

"You're through?" Hobbes asks.

"I'm bored," the boy says, walking away.

I wish I couldn't relate, but that is so true of me. So often I start something new, and I'm super gung-ho and enthusiastic, and then ... I'm not. The newness wears off, and I'm back to the same ol' same ol'. I know I'm not alone. Whether it's dieting, exercising, volunteering, learning how to knit, or play the piano, or cook, etc., etc., so often we start out with great intentions, and then we fizzle out.

So how can we keep on keeping on?

I Googled “perseverance” today and found no shortage of inspiration, but there were a few quotes that stood out to me. One is from James, Jesus' half-brother, who said we should "Let perseverance finish its work, so that you can be mature and complete, not lacking in anything," which reminded me that perseverance itself is often the act that brings about our betterment.

The second is from Confucius, who said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Often when I start something new, I rush into it, and when I lose momentum, I give up, but if experience has taught me anything, it’s to expect failure. Expect to fall off the wagon. Expect to possibly make a fool of myself. And then keep going. That’s part of developing a practice, and that’s part of the reason that annoying cliche, “Practice makes perfect,” is a cliche.

But these are some pretty abstract thoughts, so let’s talk just a smidge about the practical stuff:

— Find a mentor, but do your research first to make sure you have a teacher you can trust.

— Ask someone to hold you accountable, someone to whom you can report your progress and your failure, someone who will help you stick to your goal.

— Show yourself some loving kindness, because you’ll need it, because none of us are perfect, because we all fail in one way or another every day of our lives. And grace, like perseverance, is something we could all use in our lives.


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