Persistence isn’t sexy. It’s not often valued these days. And it’s hard.

I am writing this on a Tuesday morning, after January weeks spent writing my book,  attending family get togethers, catching up with friends, some excellent Sydney Festival events, preparing for an upcoming trip and dealing with home administrivia.

And now it’s Tuesday, and I have to change the balance to one with more work and less play. Frankly, I’d rather be in my courtyard with a book, or on a tropical island, or being fed grapes in an ancient Roman villa . Anywhere but here. Anything but my life.

OK, enough of the whinge. Because this is the stuff of life. And how we deal with it may well define our life. As well as my grape fantasy, I have another fantasy that heaven (or in my case, karma) may reward the people who stick it out, the people who keep on going, who smile while making small talk and trying to pay bills and dealing with clients and getting through the bad days at work and dealing with difficult family members and pointless bureaucracy. Or who sometimes don’t smile, but do it as best they can, anyway.

I’ve read studies that say the difference between success and failure in work lies far less than we might think in talent or daring or education or even who you know, and far more in just keeping on going. Through thick and thin. Through good and bad. The stuff I read was about work, but my guess is that it applies equally to marriage or growing older, or renovating a house (definitely that one!). Or to anything we do, really.

A favourite writer of mine is Michael Leunig. His poems and cartoons have inspired and entertained me for years and years. This one is in a frame in my bathroom, often serving as a useful life reminder.

How to get there

Go to the end of the path
until you get to the gate.
Go through the gate and head
straight out towards the horizon.
Keep going towards the horizon.
Sit down and have a rest
every now and again, but keep on going. Just keep on with it.
Keep on going as far as you can.
That’s how you get there. 

Do yourself a favour, and check out his story and his work. It’s brilliant.

And now I feel better, because I turned my desire for a doona day into this blogpost instead.

How do you keep going when you’d rather not?

Joanna Maxwell


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