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August 15, 2021: The Potential of Perseverance

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.”

Samuel JohnsonB

Definition of perseverancecontinued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perseverance

Several years ago, we attended a presentation by a gifted nature photographer. He delighted us with the stories behind his inspiring photographs and shared both his successes and also his failures. When complemented on a particularly stunning photo of a moose in the wild, the photographer shared the fact that sometimes he will take a thousand pictures, before he gets one that meets his high expectations. At the time, we were impressed by his dedication, but mainly stunned by his perseverance. In a world where everything seems to be on a fast track with the goal of instant gratification, this type of persistence seemed extraordinary. We’re used to getting what we want with the click of a button, without worrying how much energy or time we’ll need to get it.

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

—James N. Watkins

Yet if we look around us in nature, there is multiple evidence of the power of perseverance/persistence. A tiny acorn grows into a stately oak tree, rivers carved the grand canyon, and a tiny seed, dropped in the crack of a boulder, somehow sprouts up and out to greet the sun. In the wild, nature doesn’t quit when things become too much of a challenge, it keeps going.

It never fails to amaze us to see plants growing on boulders in the middle of a lake.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” 

Thomas A. Edison

Recently, we headed out early in the morning to continue our observations of a loon family we’ve discovered in a secluded cove. The weather was perfect, with cool temperatures and a crystal clear, blue sky. And for once the lake was calm. (Trying to photograph loons in a rocking boat is definitely a challenge!) Upon our arrival, we spotted one of the parents and the chick. It seemed the perfect opportunity to get some great photographs. Yet for some reason, every photograph I took had something wrong with it. Some were blurry, in others the light was off, and as frustration set in, I was ready to quit. As I gazed around at the beauty that surrounded us, I made a choice to stop stressing about the failures and enjoy the morning. I reminded myself of the photographer’s story. I hadn’t taken 1000 pictures, it was more like 30. I could savor the moment and focus on the experience of being in a beautiful, wild place. When the peace and sense of calm settled back in, I picked up my camera and was reinspired to try again.

My morning on the lake, brought to mind the times in life, where it was sheer perseverance that enabled me to reach my desired goal. Whether it was the hundreds of falls before learning to ride a two-wheeler, or writing a thesis at the same time I was single parenting, teaching full time and coaching my son’s little league team, the.persistence paid off. Whenever a task or the world seems too overwhelming, I take solace with the fact how:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

Years ago, when my husband Ron and I created a goal to hike all of the 4000+ foot mountains (48) in NH, the initial goal seemed daunting. The number 48 seemed insurmountable. These were not easy meanders, requiring dedication, physical strength and time away from a busy schedule. But when I recognized the wisdom of “one step at a time”, it broke the endeavor down into the possibility of completion. It also opened up the opportunity to enjoy the journey. My feet kept going, but I also made time to look around and savor the wonder of the natural world. It took us three years to reach the final mountain top, but the memories of that time in the mountains are treasured ones.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

― Mary Anne Radmacher

Whether it’s a challenge, a goal, or even a wishful dream, we can learn from observing nature, the lessons of how much potential there is to be found in perseverance. We can choose to pack up our courage, determine our direction and make the intention to enjoy the journey along our way. The “success” might not be what we had initially hoped for, but the moments of beauty, joy and the lessons learned will make it more meaningful and ultimately worthwhile.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to read our blog. We welcome any thoughts you choose to share and/or quotes that inspire you. Please feel free to share it with someone who might find it meaningful.

Best regards,

Wendy Oellers-Fulmer

Additional Quotes On Perseverance:

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

― Tom Hiddleston

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” 

― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” 


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

Maya Angelou

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” 

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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