Perseverance. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, during these early days on this bike trip. Though, recently (very recently) my spirits have picked up. I have a few places to stay for free in Tallahassee, thank Providence, and I’m catching a lift with a guy I contacted through Warmshowers, with whom I may also be staying, to Scot’s place tonight. But it’s been a pretty crummy three out of four days so far, what with the rain, and wearing this backpack while cycling. But anyway, perseverance. What is perseverance? According to the dictionary perseverance is “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success,” and its origins are rooted in “the late Middle English: from Old French perseverer, from Latin perseverare ‘abide by strictly,’ from perseverus ‘very strict,’ from per– ‘thoroughly’ + severus ‘severe.'”
Now we must ask why persevere? And the answer to that is going to require some thought. One really only needs to persevere when he is without joy, without enjoyment, without, perhaps, happiness in the moment of the doing of the thing, and so the question arises why persevere, why not stop, why not do something which is enjoyable instead of suffering needlessly? Does a person see that the ends is so great, is going to bring such greater satisfaction than, say, doing something else, whatever that might be, that to suffer through the means to get to that ends, one perseveres for that reason? But how does one know that the achievement is at least as commensurate with, if not greater than, the suffering in getting to that ends?, because, after all, one is not at the ends until one is at the ends, that is, he has completed his task.
Is there some sort of nobleness in suffering? Certainly not all suffering is noble because much suffering is fruitless, or, even worse, pointless, senseless and stupid, and what that is these things is noble? The answer is nothing, for nobility is “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals”. But, I suppose, if one has a noble aims, then suffering for that aims, even if one doesn’t achieve them, may be considered noble, so that one can suffer nobly. But even still, to suffer nobly, is that worthwhile? Is there not anything one could do that is just as worthwhile, more worthwhile, or even slightly less worthwhile where one doesn’t have to suffer quite so much, or at all?
Some people, and I’m thinking of cyclists in particular, or at least those who race and so want to perform at a high level, seem to enjoy the suffering. But what if you don’t win the race? What if you don’t podium? What if, even, your prestigious teammate did not win or podium, and your job was to ensure that he did, to contribute to the effort as Team Member? Does that make you a failure then? And did that make your suffering, the suffering you supposedly enjoy, worthwhile or noble? Or was it pointless? Can you hold your head up despite your disappointing finish?, for there is certainly something noble in maintaining one’s dignity in the face of defeat.
So then, I turn back to myself. I look in the mirror, so to speak. Am I persevering? I think the answer is yes because this trip hasn’t been particularly enjoyable to this point. Do I have a noble aims? I suppose one could say so. Perhaps I should ask if the aims are worth the suffering. The truth is, and I answered this earlier, I don’t know. I CAN’T know. I’m pretty certain that I will be happy with something that I write, and I’m equally certain that there will be a number of excellent photographs resulting from this trip, though what I am to do with any of these things I can’t say. So far all my past photography and writing has amounted to nil. So, if this continues one could probably say that this trip is worthless, and that I am wasting my time, and there is certainly nothing noble in that. Yet again one can say that what I do with this writing and photography in the future is irrelevant to the current travels, particularly if I take the stance that I am merely digging up the raw ore to be forged into a beautiful work later on. And I think that’s the most sensible way of looking at this (it’s certainly the easiest way to justify it!). Also, the journey is still young, only five days or so, so I too think that it would be a bit premature to call it quits so early; the bad weather can’t continue forever….