The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



I glanced over at a book on my lamp table, Perseverance by Margaret J. Wheatley. I think I bought this book months ago at the Staghorn Home & Garden Cafe ( in Greenfield. I have not read it yet, which makes it one of maybe over a hundred plus unread books laying on fore-edge in fruit boxes in my attic. This may make me a  tsundoku (a recently learned descriptive word for me). I will turn the pages of Wheatley’s book as soon as I finish this post, decreasing that number of unread books by one, at least.

Perseverance is to keep breathing and keep offering support as long as I keep breathing. Have I wanted to give up in the last few years? Yes!!! Have I wanted to run away? Yes!!! Do I imagine the day when I might walk on cobblestone streets or boat through some islands or kayak some river or hike the Appalachian Trail or visit every national park in the United States or go on safari in Africa? Yes!!!

Just a few days ago, I told Jacob, “I could just walk away from all this.”

“Could you?” he asked.

“Yes, I could walk away. But no, I could never walk away.”

Perseverance for Jacob is getting up in the morning each workday to go to a job paying just slightly above minimum wage for which he is over-qualified and over-educated. It is him continuing to do all the things the court mandates while feeling the sting of injustice. It is him continuing to proclaim his innocence. It is him continuing a legal fight with no guarantees of success.

Perseverance is Cary deciding to go to rehabilitation and then getting up every morning for months after to continue intensive outpatient counseling, and then attending one or two NA or AA meetings in the evening, and then returning home to her son. She perseveres to stay clean and sober with no guarantee that success is permanent, and she must persevere for the rest of her life.

Perseverance keeps many of us going without knowing the outcome will be the one we hope for. Perseverance is to continue despite advice to stop, to give up, to accede to the will of others in the justice system. Perseverance is to stay sober though your brain might be whispering that one drink, one joint or one pill will not make a difference. Perseverance has no guarantee except the guarantee that you will feel you gave the best you had to give.

Of course, if you know the serenity prayer, you understand that wisdom is knowing the battles to pick. But isn’t that perseverance too? To know when to switch course? So for now, Jacob continues to persevere in his fight for justice; and Cary continues to persevere to stay clean and sober; I just persevere in whatever way I need to.

Wheatley, Margaret J. Perseverance. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2010.

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