My mum is an unassuming hard arse. To paint a real picture, she is a softly spoken, middle class, white woman with a blonde bob and the titanium attitude of a farmer’s daughter. She can rid mice of life by the swing of their tail. That’s not a poem, or a joke. One of my favourite pastimes is seeking her advice which includes, but is not limited to, advice on sleep (“You can sleep when you’re dead”), advice on back pain (“Have a glass of wine”) and advice on handling arguments and/or coping with annoying traits your partner will never lose in the course of your relationship (“You just get over it”). But one of my All Time Favourites is in the realm of coping with work: “You just have to push through it”. You just have to push through it. Thanks, mum. My colleague, Kate, has a similar mother with similar hard arse advice dished out between pottery classes: “Get some sleep. Have a healthy dinner. You always get it done. Try not to stress.” Try not to stress. Kate hadn’t tried that yet. Thanks, mum.
You’d think this is a story about resilience, which is where I could take it, or mums, which it kind of is. But I am talking mainly about endurance here. When my mum told me to push through it, it wasn’t pushing through a professional crisis, or failure, or even overwork. It wasn’t about handling adversity but handling the monotony full-time work and full-time life sometimes brings with it. Especially when it is August, and you weren’t smart enough to take a holiday in July. And in a failed moment of endurance, after I didn’t listen to my mum, I stumbled across another piece of wisdom. This time from James Baldwin: “Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.” Mum was right? And in the middle of August, as the year feels both done and far from over, we could all do with the literary equivalent of Gatorade to help us endure the next few months. And that, my friends, is not James Baldwin or my mum. That is Grit.
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