The Tortoise and the Dare. Endurance is an active skill.

September 1, 2011

Bring... it... on..........

If you kick a tortoise it doesn’t really care. Shell and such. Tortoises are born with shells and don’t really have to exert any effort in using them to protect themselves. Their resilience is a passive skill. You throw a rock, tortoise sits there drooling, rock bounces off, tortoise is chill about it.

Some people can do this. Criticism and expressions of doubt just glance off their indomitable wills. But then there are people like me, and maybe you, who mistakenly believe that just like for a tortoise, human resilience is only innate and passive, not learned.

Not so. The things we humans have to endure demand pushing back, pushing over, pushing forward. Human resilience is an active skill. We are thinking creatures who generally take mental blows, so our endurance comes from choosing to press on.

Watch Rocky. The definitive underdog story. In the sixth movie he says You, me, nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. Rocky gets punched in the head for a living. He knows something about endurance.

I think to develop this skill, one must take risks and expose oneself to potential damage. Speak your mind, make your moves. It can be good to get just a little fatalistic about it. Being vulnerable and under attack gives you a certain amount of freedom to stop caring about what other people expect of you and what other people think is okay. When you are in a fit of mental desperation, you may be amazed at what you are driven to do, at the level of authenticity you feel comfortable expressing because hey, you might as well.

Every hit you take, stop and acknowledge that it hurt, but that you re still standing. You re still here. You ll live. This is one of those things for which stating it proves it.

This is totally empowering. You can get rejected by date after date and not care once you realize that ultimately you don't have to take any real damage from it or give a shit. Publisher after publisher, parent after overbearing parent. Maybe Eleanor Roosevelt was stretching a little when she said nobody can hurt you without your consent, but certainly no one can maim you without your consent. You don't have to play by the unspoken rule that some arbitrary number of failures makes it acceptable to give up.

You are welcome to adopt the tortoise s carefree attitude, just remember you have to build the armor yourself, and choose to hold it up.

Let’s do it. Activate.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sonia July 2, 2010 at 11:31 am

That s it! Lately I am feeling like a tortoise in many ways. Don t give a shit to others’ opinions and also am going slowly not to feel tired :)

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