“A path along Mount Scio remains pressed during winter. This is where my ideas for writing is born. These trees hear my song and are glad.”
My morning walks are more challenging this time of year. There is plenty of snow on the ground, forcing drivers and pedestrians to share roads. There is also freezing temperatures to contend with, as well as slippery ice. Daylight is shortened, reducing visibility, not to mention regular snow squalls and flurries. Some of you reading this might think to yourself: ‘Why doesn’t he just take it easy and stay at home on a treadmill instead.’ As though my reason for physical exercise is strictly for keeping my body fit.
There is a tendency in my culture to gravitate towards what is comfy; to take a pill rather than change one’s lifestyle; to sit on a cushion rather than labour. This inclination to pull away from exercising virtue – such as strength conditioning, perseverance, courage and self-discipline – is nothing new or out of the ordinary. However it’s not life-affirming; i.e., it doesn’t contribute towards human flourishing or personal well-being. No matter how well-off we are or secluded from the harshness of reality, we need to exercise grit. Regardless of how fortified our ivory tower, things fall apart all the time, and there are unforeseen circumstances beyond our control. Thankfully grit is our backbone. Like a cat that jumps from a burning building, grit is what enables us to land on our feet. Should a thousand people lay slain in the fields, grit is what allows us to dig their graves, to raise ourselves up in the name of dignity.
So do we do grit to prepare for a rainy day, or do we embrace grit for its own sake; one or the other, neither or both, a blending of two and the same. Are we to liken grit to the tedious effort of rolling a boulder up a hill just to watch it fall back down, or is it within our power to transform the mundane so that we might transcend? Think of it this way: All around the world people come together to sing in choirs. They raise our spirits and their soothing melodies linger on with us even when life fades in old age. But how often do we think of the grunt work required to refine such art; imagine the dissonance if nobody was willing to face difficulty with grit. Too seldom do we give mind to what grounds us so that our souls might know beauty, harmony & splendour.
Interesting and thought-provoking! I enjoyed your analogy of the cat landing on its feet!
As a poet I fancy that I’m well acquainted with grit as time and time again when faced with the empty page, I know it will take much tenacity to write that terrible (and I do mean terrible!) first, second and tenth draft, before even the tiniest whiff of beauty, harmony or splendour seeps through. Warm winter wishes, Deborah.
Thank you for your kind word and for sharing your personal challenge. It reminds me of Plotinus: ‘If you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist, who cuts off, polishes, purifies until he has adorned his statue with all the marks of beauty.’ Wishing you a blessed day…