Never Give Up!
Most mornings when I am awake early enough I pile our 108 pound puppy into the truck and we head off to the woods for a trail run. Now that the weather is warming up and the sun is up nice and early this is not a difficult task. At least getting there is not difficult, sometimes the actual run is a bit of a challenge.
Our Ellie is not much of a runner. Of course she is hauling a large load and has a good deal of fur so some mornings it is probably down right uncomfortable. But she has a terrible short term memory so when I lace up my sneakers she has forgotten yesterday's run and she starts to get so excited she drools and nudges me to get me moving faster. She pants all the way to the park. We get there and she leaps from the car, paws flailing. She runs to the nearest tree and takes a long sniff, tail wagging. Moves on to another tree, tail wagging, sniff sniff. She runs all out for about a mile or so then she loses steam. Unfortunately for her I spend the first mile cussing myself out for getting up so early and complaining to no one in particular because, well there is no one there to listen, about how out of shape I am until mile two when the adrenalin kicks in and then I am good for a couple more miles.
And she's off!
Poor dog. She forgets this. After her mile she slows down and sometimes stops altogether and looks at me with those big,beautiful, sad eyes just dripping with a longing you can almost feel in your soul. Mostly it is a longing for food and water, which she doesn't get until we are done, something else I think she doesn't remember.
Each time we run she chases whatever wild life makes enough noise or is close enough for her to catch their scent. Sometimes it is some unsuspecting squirrel and sometimes it is a deer and most times it is at least two deer we come across as they quietly nibble on grass, enjoying the serenity of an early morning feast. Which Ellie rudely interrupts by the thunderous roar of her paws hitting the ground. Of course my sweet dog cannot catch deer. She tries and sometimes I lose sight of her because she is focused and determined and lost in the woods. Eventually, though she realizes the futility of her chase and emerges from behind a stone wall or some bushes and trots along side me until something else catches her attention.
I love that about her. I love the tenacity she shows each time she takes off after the deer. They are so much faster than she is. I am sure if she ever got close enough and one kicked her there would be serious damage but she never gets close enough. They bound gracefully over the stones walls and hop through the vegetation like ballerinas performing a well rehearsed routine. And Ellie, well she just charges. She doesn't seem to recall from the previous morning that she wasn't able to catch that deer. It doesn't even faze her. Somewhere in her wiring she is told to chase and she goes.
But even better is her ability to just move on when it doesn't work out. She sidles up to me with this attitude of "oh well, I wasn't that interested anyway."
That is a fabulous attribute. Being able to go after something day after day, losing day after day and yet shaking off the disappointment to try another day. There are many famous people who have succeeded even when faced with rejection and failure, over and over again. J.K Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers. Stephen King's first novel, "Carrie", sound familiar? Yes it was rejected 30 times. He even threw it away and his wife pulled it from the trash and encouraged him to try again.
Albert Einstein was considered mentally handicapped by his parents and teachers in his early life because he didn't speak until he was four and didn't read until he was seven. Bet they felt a little handicapped when he won the Nobel Prize. Walt Disney was fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination and his first animation company went bankrupt. http://getbusylivingblog.com/famous-people-who-found-success-despite-failures/
Martin Luther King got a C in public speaking. Do we even know who that professor was?
There have been many things I have given up on because I thought they were too difficult or simply because I didn't think I had what was required to succeed. Piano, gymnastics, flute; the list goes on. Even college. Although eventually I tried that and it worked out just fine.
A few days ago I was taking a walk with my oldest and he told me math is too hard for him. I get it. To be honest math is one thing I gave up on years ago. I would rather stick a sharp object beneath my fingernails then take another math course, ever. But this is not something I wanted to share with my 11 year old. At this point he has a lot of math ahead of him. And of course I don't want him to give up on things the way I did. If he gives up on math he may just give up on anything that is a challenge.
So I simply said, "Math is not hard," ( author's note...it is okay to lie to your children when it is in their best interest.) " Really nothing is hard unless you tell yourself it is. Then once you have done that you may as well pack it in. It is all about your mind set. Set your mind on accomplishing something and you will, eventually. Some things just take more effort than others." I then patted myself on the back because I thought that was rather profound. My son ,however, said ," Nah, it's just too hard."
I switched tactics and told him about Ellie's deer chasing, how she keeps trying without giving up. I am not sure how much of that sunk in because he smiled and said,"She's funny."
So he isn't wired like our tenacious dog. Most humans aren't. It takes practice and determination just to become determined. Dogs just do, which works great for them. Ellie will keep trying to catch the deer. I am doubtful she ever will. I am hopeful she won't. I am not sure what either one of us would do if she managed to catch one. And my son will find his way through math. I will keep repeating the same mantra to him until it sinks in, until he hears it in his sleep, until he is saying it himself without even realizing he is saying it. And then, hopefully, he will be a little like Ellie, wired for success and ignoring failure.
And she's done!