Over time, a slow, steady, dripping of water has the power to erode the resistant power of rock formations. I am reminded often of these metaphors from nature. On the surface building a teardrop camping trailer from scratch seems a daunting task – and indeed it is. Taken as a whole it is overwhelming. On those days I can commit time to building, I begin with a coffee cup in hand, do a visual assessment of where I am, and ponder my next best step. There is an abundance of work to be done on so many varied facets – all needing to be addressed before it hits the road. Where do I go next? In the end, I decide it doesn’t matter as much just what to address, as it does to address something. Drop by drop, the myriad small things are marked done, leading to completion of major components of the trailer (chassis, raising of the walls, enclosing the roof, stretching wires throughout, panelling the interior, construction of cabinets, galley, skinning the roof, adding fenders, and tires) and eventually, completion of the whole. Guided by a vision of a completed project – patiently taking one step at a time – I will, one day, be able to hit the road.
This approach has worked well for me in the past. Over the course of this last summer I have lost 11 pounds. Day to day, my weight loss goal seemed far off, but with steady attention over time, stepping on the scale has rewarded with clear, documented progress. I completed my dissertation this way. As a whole, it is enough to make one weep, but sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, chapter by chapter, I finished. I once bought a 40′ x 60′ pole barn at an auction. Nail by nail, pole by pole, I disassembled it, loaded it on a trailer and carted it 18 miles home – only to reverse the process and put it back up. Next summer, I will add a bedroom and bathroom addition on to our house. I will hire the basement dug, slab poured, and cement blocks in place. From there, I will once again apply the metaphor of the power of the steady dripping of water, and build the addition – stud by stud, shingle by shingle, patiently waiting until we are able to move in.
Patience and persistence have great power. Over time, through application of a slow, steady attention to task we can realize our goals. Drawing on the wisdom of these metaphors of the natural world we can slowly, but steadily accomplish great things.
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”