Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said these words, and last night, as I spent my daily two hours at the gym running, I thought a lot about perseverance.
One thing I've learned from dogs is how to dig down deep inside when you think you can't go on and pull out strength you didn't know you had in order to muddle through and make it.
I first learned about perseverance from conditioning for my own cross country training in high school. I relearned it again getting through eight years of school, completing not only a masters program, but a certification in composition studies and a thesis in creative writing while working full-time as a single mother.
I relearned it again a few weeks ago.
I wish I had pictures of the dogs slogging through knee-deep snow in a blizzard that day we did 23 miles. The wind blew so hard it pushed the snow sideways as it fell. Visibility was minimal. There were times I thought of stopping, resting, and there were times I thought "what the heck am I doing out here!?" But whenever I stopped pedaling and pushing the back of the sled for a rest, the dogs kept right on pulling, trudging on through the crazy snow and cold.
And when I turned a corner and dumped my sled on another run. The dogs kept pulling, dragging me 1/4 mile, face in the snow, breathless. I could have let go, chosen the easy road. But I had a death grip on the handle bar of that sled and I would not give up. Because letting go meant falling short of my ultimate goals to go the distance. Letting go meant failure.
About 30 minutes into my training every night, I want to stop. I hit a wall where I think my body can't give anymore. And then I remember the dogs. How they don't even think about giving up - they reach down inside of their wild souls and push harder when it gets tough. And then I reach down and push harder, go longer, faster.
I believe there is some divine greatness that we are all blessed with that helps us tap into strength in times of need, but some people never push themselves to tap into that greatness.
My dad, the Marine, is who I owe my work ethic to. He is a fighter. He is why I started this blog (see the very first posts).
He has been sick again this week, with oxygen levels of 58%; I didn't know someone could live with saturations lower than 72%. He's been on oxygen pretty much 24/7 except to go to the bathroom and eat. The doc wanted him admitted Monday but, of course, he refused.
This morning, he started to pass out twice. He was taken by EMS squad to the hospital this morning, still fighting.
At this point, it's looking like he has pretty advanced emphysema. There's not a heck of a lot that can be done. It's kinda like putting a bandaid on a bleeding artery, just biding time.
Dogs are an inspiration and a testament to what can be achieved with a little hard-headed determination and a refusal to give up. And my dad is also an inspiration to me.
Jack and my dad this past Thanksgiving