By Daphne Rose Kingma
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people 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.” –Wolfgang von Goethe
Persistence is the spiritual grace that allows you to continue to act with optimism even when you feel trapped in the pit of hell. It is the steadfast, continual, simple — and at times excruciatingly difficult — practice of trudging forward until the difficult present you’re scared will go on forever is replaced by a future that has a new color scheme.
Persistence isn’t fluffy or humorous (although it can benefit from frequent infusions of humor) or stupidly optimistic. Persistence is intention embodied, repeatedly, in action. It’s seeing something through, even when it seems like you’re not getting anywhere, because inside you know a solution is coming toward you that is different from the present, and that when it arrives it will hold a cornucopia of new possibilities.
Somewhere in the distance, your future is holding out its arms to meet you, ready to bring you whatever you’ve had the courage to ask for. It is already holding in trust whatever you have the courage to keep steadfastly moving toward. It wants to join hands with you to create the next chapter of your life, but it won’t — it can’t — if you stay riveted to the same spot, whining and complaining, passive, fearful, and resentful. That’s because the future always comes toward us in exactly the spirit in which we approach it — hands and heart open, or souls withered in defeat.
When you decide to persist, it’s not because you’re an idiot, not because you don’t know from the inside or from looking around just how dire your current circumstances are. It’s because in the face of perhaps thousands of reasons to be discouraged, you choose to be bold, to carry on, to keep on duking it out, no matter how grizzly, tedious, intractable, or seemingly hopeless the present situation may seem. The power of persistence is required especially when we’re dealing with intense, emotionally devastating circumstances or bunches of hugely difficult things that have stacked up all at once. When you’re facing a diagnosis of Graves’ disease, a taxi accident, and the imminent death of your sister, and your boyfriend has just moved to Japan, you will definitely need to call on persistence.
Sometimes the persistence that can transform a whole life lasts just a few minutes — as in the case of the soldier who slings his buddy’s bleeding body up over his shoulder and lugs him across the desert until he can deliver him to the medivac copter. Sometimes it is a life’s work, an Erin Brockovich-like crusade of endlessly knocking on doors, talking to strangers, gathering evidence, and poring through mountains of papers until, finally, you uncover the facts that can change everything.
Persistence is guts. Stick-to-itiveness. Determination. The willingness to repeat and repeat and repeat until you’ve achieved the desired effect. Persistence says: Don’t give up!
In this sense, persistence is visionary. Expectant. A sacred journey resplendent with hope. When you persist you know, on a visceral level, that you are enacting your part in the invisible contract between you and the cosmos. Instead of feeling powerless, you feel alive. Instead of feeling hopeless, you have a sense that you’re on the path to somewhere. Instead of feeling like a victim, you feel like a person of action; in your deep self you know that this choice for action will one day be rewarded with a response.
Persistence is the journey of effectiveness that allows you to hope. It is the energy that wants to get things done, to assist you in moving from crisis to solution. Persistence can take you from debt to solvency, from heartbreak to true love, from sickness to health, from foreclosure to having a home. Emotionally, it can take you from fear to joy; spiritually, it can deliver you from despair to peace. So persist, be steadfast in your undertaking, for only the path consistently traveled can deliver you to the outcome you long for.
Whatever your battle, it’s never easy. The monsters never just slink back into the woods with their tails between their legs. They will fight you for every breath. There is a battle in this universe for every inch of light, and only those who persist will rise to behold the astonishing light of the sunrise.