Tough and Patient

Filtering through ancient literature as I am wont to do from time to time I came across a quote from the ancient Roman writer Ovid, a contemporary, and an often not beloved one, of Augustus. Ovid is famous for having written the Metamorphosis which is a big world history that focuses on the many transformations of people into other things, such as animals and trees and whatnot. While this is really of interest in terms of how people’s religions shape how they think, a particular quote from Ovid that I had stumbled on online and said to be in Metamorphosis interested me. Paraphrased Ovid had said: Don’t worry. Worry is useless. Instead be tough and be patient. The quote was supposed to be in the Metamorphosis but I could not locate it.

Never mind, the quote is a good one and as long as modern internet social media twits don’t twit it as that of Mark Twain I’ll imagine we’re doing pretty well. Don’t worry, be tough and patient.

me teaching 2018

There really isn’t a better recommendation for a jiu-jitsu practitioner. Patience is important both for our expectations of our own progress, and in our attempts to thwart our on mat challenges. The toughness is less, in my mind, about a sporting aggressiveness and much more about the endurance of effort and desire. Effort is that thing so many of us seem to want avoid, especially when we’re young, and we say things like, “why is everything I want so haaaard!” and Mom or Dad says, “It’s only the Hard things that matter!” And we pout and stamp our feet, and do something easy, like eat a bag of cookies or binge-watch a full season of Airwolf (for the nostalgia).

A good synonym might be “grit”. Grit has been accounted for the success of everyone from famous writers who endured endless rejection (Faulkner supposedly had dozens of rejections taped over his desk) to the fellow who traipsed the Appalachian Trail while blind (having fallen, he claimed some 50,000 times) to getting a job in your field. The rejection and competition are going to be rich and disappointing, the trick is not to get washed out by it.  Mom and Dad were right, and the hard stuff really is the only stuff that really matters.

And so be Patient and be Tough.  And endure so that you can appreciate your real achievements.

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