May 15


Today's Quotation:

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at a rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it--but all that had gone before.

Jacob Riis

Today's Meditation:

I have to remind myself often that the work that I'm doing is only part of the work that goes on in the lives of my students.  Because I've always lived in a results-oriented society, all of my experience and learning has driven in the point that results are what matter--quantifiable, verifiable, permanent results.  This is the warped view that continues to insist on standardized testing, for example, despite research that shows quite clearly that standardized testing is a pretty invalid measure of learning and/or knowledge.

Ironically enough, my work in military intelligence in the Army was probably the most clearly defined--we knew only what we were supposed to know, and our knowledge was only a certain piece of the puzzle that also was being put together by other intelligence agencies.  It was refreshing to work in an environment that allowed us to focus on what we do and not have to split the rock ourselves with the first blow.  Our work was painstaking and seemingly without results--we had to trust that others were doing their work, too.

Sometimes it's easy to get frustrated when we don't see results quickly enough.  Sometimes we think that the rock's never going to break.  It's tempting to stop in frustration and say, "Look--I've hit the thing fifty times already, and nothing has happened.  It's about time I got the hint and moved on to something that will work."  But if we don't keep on going until that 101st blow, we'll never know the taste of success in this particular endeavor.

We can be nice to someone who's crabby to us for months and never get a positive response, but when it comes, it will be worth it.  We can try a particular recipe fifteen or twenty times before we get it right.  There are so many things to which we have to give time and patience if we ever hope to see the results that we've been looking for, yet so many times we give up just a bit too early.

Questions to ponder:

1.  Can you think of times when you've persevered even when it's looked like things weren't working, and you've finally hit the point at which they did work?  How did that feel?

2.  How do we distinguish between the times we should persevere and the times when it's better to move on to something else?

3.  Why have results become so all-important in our culture?

For further thought:

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins-- not through strength but by perseverance.

H. Jackson Brown

more thoughts and ideas on perseverance



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