Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Persistent Vine, Capernaum, Israel
I took this photo of a vine that was literally growing out of the ruins of a two thousand year old synagogue in Capernaum, Israel that was the site where Jesus had taught and healed people. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but the fact that it was actually blooming and flourishing in such a desolate place caught both my attention and imagination. And the image goes a long way in giving life to the concept of persistence.
I met a 90 year old man diligently working out at the gym recently that also gives life to my understanding of persistence. He plays tennis doubles every week. That alone really made an impression on me. I asked him if he has a secret formula. He looked straight in my eyes and said "it's all about persistence". Later I found out he had been on Schindler's list. Wow. That absolutely gives a whole new meaning to the word.
Today I noticed a motivational poster hanging in the gym that echoed a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” I have to believe my new acquaintance has read that poster and fully understands it.
And that quote reminded me of Calvin Coolidge’s observation that I have kept with me ever since I stumbled across it years ago: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Finally, Tobias Wolff observed that “We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.” So don’t shy away from seemingly unsurmountable challenges—embrace them! Facing and overcoming obstacles with determination and persistence is the pathway to self-discovery, culminating in the most elated feelings that any one human being can ever experience. And even if you may fall short, you can rest assured that you will never be counted among those timid souls that never ran the gauntlet. If you don’t lose the lesson in those events, then the experience can still be counted as a win.