“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” — Thomas Carlyle
. . . . . . . Persistence. Think about it. Think about being under the earth, coming under the vast pressure of rock on rock … and making a diamond. It isn’t just pressure that creates the diamond, you know, it is also the persistence over time of the crushing action. The gemstone is made through the almost-living will of geology.
. . . . . . . Persistence in human affairs makes its own form of diamonds. One of the best examples of human persistence yielding fruit is the creation of the written novel. The writer can only attack the page for so long each day before exhaustion sets in. The creative juices must be recharged. But if he isn’t persistent, if he doesn’t return to the page day in and day out, the book never gets written. Persistence is key, and although there is laziness and resistance internally, the writer rises above all that, generating a work that wins him praise and laudits.
. . . . . . . For most people, who go to university and graduate to get a job, they’ve demonstrated enormous persistence without even realizing it. By the time they’re in their early twenties, they’ve been in school for almost eighteen years. They’ve never known a life without the books, so it seems normal to them while they’re persevering. But persevere they do. Unlike the dropouts who litter the wayside, the graduate has submerged his doubts and fears in order to seize the ring of success. He has lasted.
. . . . . . . Lasting is no mean feat. Getting up on all those mornings when you wanted to sleep in at university, partying but then going back to the classroom on time … these things and more differentiate the successful student from the mediocre failure.
. . . . . . . I dropped out of university, but I had already decided I wasn’t going to be a soldier in the interminable tech wars. I wasn’t going to be a code jockey staring at the screen eight hours a day. Instead, I decided to start an escort service called Black Orchid. But I was too public in my intentions and brought the heat of society down upon my head.
. . . . . . . It’s too bad. I was going to get a money machine up and running, and use it to fund my motorcycle trip^ across the United States. The prostitution was going to pay my bills. Black Orchid was going to hire women to service men and was going to be a success. But that was my other problem: I didn’t have women working for me and I dumbly “advertised” for them. If I was going to go back in time and do it again, I would have seduced a girl and pressured her into working for me. Love would have been the glue that bound her to my agency.
. . . . . . . I actually — incredibly — went from door to door posting my combination appeal-for-a-girl and a price list and phone number to call to reach Black Orchid. But boy was I persistent. There’s a lesson here: persistence in dumbassery can only sink you deeper in the quicksand. If you’re going to be persistent, make sure you’re going down the right road. If you’re on the road to hell, persistence will only penetrate the outer circles of hell and send you spiraling toward the center.
. . . . . . . There is a heuristic that can be employed in making decisions. First, if you have a decision to be made, think on the topic long and hard. View it from all angles. Then lock in your decision. Once you’ve made your choice, don’t go back on it. Be persistent. Stick with your new way of doing things until you win through.
. . . . . . . This was Adolf Hitler’s chosen method of thought. But it was not the best heuristic. The best heuristic would be to be persistent in the face of all odds, unless strong new information came to light forcing you to abandon your path. Hitler would not abandon the invasion of Russia, even when Stalingrad was turning into a deadlock, even when his armies began to be captured in the East. He had simply made up his mind and no amount of new information was going to compel a retreat.
. . . . . . . The Nazis were a compact, small bunch that took over a large, industrialized nation and made it stamp out products for their own use. They didn’t do anything original that any old parasite wouldn’t have done. What they did was apply persistence as a lever to make the old order creakingly move OVER to a new position. That was it.
. . . . . . . But if Hitler had retreated when it was clear it wasn’t going to be an easy steamroll, he could have built up a Fortress Germany and tried again later on, when he had the might of Europe, rather than just Deutschland, at his back. His inability to be flexible so that he could make easy decisions doomed him.
. . . . . . . Be firm — but be flexible when necessity calls for it. Your persistence should be an S-shaped snake instead of a straight ahead stick in the woods. You go back and forth. You stay on the ultimate path but deviate in the details as they come along.
. . . . . . . Maybe then you’ll be spared your own personal Operation Barbarossa.
^ I did end up going to the United States on a motorcycle trip. During mid-November, just before the first winter storms lashed out, I left Ontario and raced south to Florida for clement weather. My adventures down there would last me three months before I ended up heading to Vancouver for the first time …