Persistence and its complicated relationship to school holidays in my life.
A few years ago I spent months thinking about patience - what it is, how to get it, how it works. In my twenties I was obsessed by the concept of joy. I've written a whole book about what I learned about love and what it really is.
Turns out I have 'themes' in my life. The new theme, the idea that has bounced around the inside of my head for weeks now, is this: perseverance and persistence. I figure they're just two words that mean pretty much the same thing. Sticking at something. For a long, long, long time.
Of course, when I realised what was going on in my brain, I lay awake for three hours buzzing and planning a new book. Persistence, perseverance, what it is, what it gives you, how to do it. How long do you persist for? What's the difference between persevering and just dumbly putting up with rubbish instead of cutting and running? Is perseverance always a good thing? When can you say 'I quit?'
I was inspired and brave and bold and ready to launch into the beauties and soaring heights of persistence and perseverance for about a day.
And then school holidays happened.
Let me just say that there is really nothing like a good dose of school holidays to bring perseverance into sharp focus.
I had plans to build a billy cart. No, actually, I had plans to build two billy carts. But they were harder than I thought. And the wheels were bodgier than I expected. And the tip/recycling centre wasn't quite as full of treasures just waiting to be repurposed into swift child-friendly, retro go-carts as I imagined. And then one of the kids pinched my drill key and I couldn't find it, and the screwdriver really hurt my hand and the wheels ended up being too slow and I screwed a bit of wood on totally the wrong way. Plus my back hurt because I don't have a dedicated building bench in my garage. And then, one afternoon, when I forced all the children into the car and drove 40 minutes to the really good tip, to get some really good wheels, I arrived there to find I'd left my wallet behind and the recycling centre people wouldn't accept a cheque. Sigh.
Also, the kids argued with each other. A lot. So I had to use all my smarts to figure out ways to get them to stop, which involved a lot of drawing of diagrams and individual chats with each person (we can't manage 'family conferences' at all) and sticking up slogans and notices all over the kitchen as reminders. And then I had to be available, around, and engaged. Playing UNO. Building lego. Listening to long stories about princesses and ponies. Doing good, pro-active parently type things. Which I'm sure the kids enjoyed, but which to do them, I really had to dig into all the perseverance I had in long-ago stored up, bottled reserves, right at the back of my psyche.
I still practiced my cello, which is a 'persistent-y' thing I like to do, but during the lesson before the holidays, my teacher gave me a tricky little piece which involves lots of quick notes - 'DAH-da-da-da, DAH-da-da-da'. It hurts my fingers and sounds like I am murdering a small animal.
And then there was the Blood Test Saga in which I realised very clearly that I should never schedule my autistic son to have a blood test on the way to a trip to Sydney, and, even less, should never make him try to go to a new blood test venue. I ended up having to ring to apologise to the pathology lady - not for his behaviour, but for mine. We persisted for a full week with helping our son face his fears until today he was finally successful in 'risking having a sharp object poked in his arm'. (His words.)
Oh yes. And did I mention I decided to sort out the lego box? And persistently track and clearn up the source of a terrible smell in the lounge room. (Dogs + wet weather + carpet = you draw your own conclusions.) And cook. Every night. (I know, right?)
As a result of all of this persistence overdrive, I decided to take a little break from my running routine, 'just to have a rest', or so I told myself. But then I felt guilty for not persevering with that. (The sleep-ins kind of made up for it, but only just.)
Perseverance. It's a challenge. Will you feel like crying? Often. Will it seem that you just have to muddle through on many, many days? For sure. Will the results be outstanding? Not always. Is it worth it? I'm pretty sure it is.
What do you think? What do you have to persist at? And is it worth it?