19 July 2014

Perserverance: Perfer et obdura

There is a Latin phrase, "perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim" which roughly translates to "be patient and tough, this pain will someday be useful to you." I prefer the first half of the phrase by itself, mostly because I don't consider myself to be bountiful of either characteristic and could use a measure of both, and also because I don't think pain always translates to gain.
Sunset over the desert in Abu Dhabi, 2009 deployment 
I tweeted earlier this week about perseverance and how in that continued push, one finds triumph, however defined or measured. I follow road races, ultra and trail racing and track and field; I am often struck by how, regardless of the distance of the race, the hours it takes to prepare and the mental strength it takes to compete is truly remarkable, and then to muster that same energy over and over and over is simply astonishing, if you sit back and quantify it. Add in injuries, bad races and daily life, and wow, what drives them to keep striving?

I then thought about those who have faced greater obstacles than I, especially those combat wounded Marines I know who seem to radiate life, joy and who have not skipped a beat in moving forward and in many cases, achieving things those who have all their various faculties intact would never dream of trying. Is it the Marine in them or is it something innate that they brought with them to the Corps, part of their character strengthened by their time in service?

I reflected on this while preparing for next week's race in Annapolis, coordinating training, family visits, whisking the kids to and from camp, attending physical therapy, managing play dates and squeezing in just a bit of study time for the next LSAT exam as well as the incorporating daily rhythm of household life: cleaning, cooking and providing afternoon entertainment for the munchkins every day after camp. I thought about what I hope to do next - attend law school - and why I would put myself through three more years of academic rigor. Heck, why did I lay out the challenge of a fundraising race series, trekking about the U.S. while going through the application process? And where in all of this do I attend to my kids' needs, never mind my emotional and physical needs in the continued work of rehab, all as a single mom?

Simply put, I persevere in my pursuits because I want my life to be as expansive as it can be, that whatever nugget of desire I wish upon, that I do what is required to make it a reality for myself.  And some would say I am unrealistic - for example, why would I apply only to top ten law schools? My response, why wouldn't I? I want to set the example for my children. I want to have a greater impact, to be of service to others (which is my driving reason to attend law school), and in that lies my reason for this race series. It is not a chaotic dash to accumulate, but a continued effort in which moments are remembered, knowledge is gained, and emotions are rich and encompassing, regardless of the spectrum.

A friend recently said to me, "Your 30s are for pushing and for driving ahead, now is the time for you to pause and just enjoy what you worked for, to relax a bit and then decide what's next. Do you really want to work that hard?"

Yes, I do. I am driven and inspired by what is possible, not what is improbable or difficult. I make my plans and work to achieve. I am not super-woman, not extraordinary. I am a hopeful pragmatist, logical and rational (and secretly full of emotion), and I will adjust my route and my goals when required.

I am just not willing to ever give up.

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