The Power of Persistence
I’ve learnt valuable lessons about the power of persistence. If we want to fulfill our goals and make changes in our life we need persistence.
I was driving to interview a meditation teacher from New Zealand for my radio program Full Circle, feeling tired after ten years struggling to produce a weekly two hour radio show on my own with no money. Listening to an interview on the radio, with an author of a book about the secrets of success, the question was “What is the single most important ingredient for success?”. I was thinking “A great idea, passion, vision etc.” and was surprised when he answered “Persistence”. The best idea or talent in the world is not much use if we don’t persist in developing them, whatever the challenges. Because of one thing we can be certain, there will be obstacles in the way. Often we hear speakers extolling the virtues of following our dreams, yet I rarely hear mentioned the need for determination and hard work to overcome the barriers that will inevitably arise. It felt like a message for me at just the right time, and it gave me the impetus to continue with my crazy life of following my bliss despite the challenges.
About a year after my knee and femur fractures I tried walking to the beach, and by the time I reached the water I was tired and in pain, and in no fit state to have much of a swim. With disappointment I figured that my days of ocean swimming were probably over. I was deeply saddened, given that the sea has been one of the joys of my life, all my life.
Meanwhile I continued to swim at the local pool four times a week, plus hydrotherapy and working on my walking technique and changing habits with Julie my Feldenkrais practitioner. One of my main focuses was building up the strength of my legs. I kicked many miles of the pool, working the injured leg with its wasted muscles, with the aim of achieving the best my body could be, whatever that might be. During summer a few years later I gave going to the beach a go, at the encouragement of my two regular beach and coffee buddies Nirmala and Niyati. To my delight I was able to manage it all, even the walk up hill on sand, without needing assistance. There were no ill effects, no pain, no fatigue and so many positives from swimming in the ocean and enjoying coffee and catching up with my wise, fun friends. I was amazed at how far I’d come. My persistent effort over four years enabled me to wind back my degeneration clock and, rather than keeping going downhill physically as would be expected as I age, I improved. It is about persisting every day, whether we see results or not, but just keeping going.
More recently, since having my second knee replacement and hip revision surgeries, I have been working on changing my twenty year habit of bending over from the hips, after my surgeon freed up tight groin tissue. I am able now to stand straight with some effort, but if I am tired or not paying attention, I regress to my old posture. Every time I’m in the pool I am practising standing straight and that transfers to remembering during my day. I know it will take time to make this change, so I just keep at it, encouraged by my lessons in persistence.
Then I had another breakthrough at hydrotherapy when several different exercises I’ve been doing for months came together to create something new. Tina Turner was playing on the sound system, louder than the usual background level, and when an old favourite ‘Nutbush City Limits’ came on. I just had to dance in the freedom of the water. I was in heaven, as all the years of not being free to dance disappeared. While I couldn’t get too carried away in the class, I found a rhythm in a kind of walking/dancing/twisting. Somehow I started using the muscles on the back of my legs in a new way. I kept going for the whole song, exploring this novel way of moving. While I’ve been using my back thigh muscles for kicking for many years, I didn’t know I wasn’t engaging them in walking. But when I experimented out of the water, suddenly I had at least double more power in my propulsion. It has made a huge difference in my life, I am able to walk further, freeing me from some limitations. It is a miracle as a result of a brilliant surgeon, persistence and Tina Turner. I am overjoyed. Persistence is a great power