I saw quite an amazing sight last week. I was in my upstairs bathroom, which looks out the back of the house onto the backyard and the conservation land behind us, and I heard a major commotion among the birds that inhabit the hundreds of trees out there. Now the birds are always chirping away and can be a bit noisy, but this was way beyond that. Being the inquisitive guy that I am, I looked out the window to see if I could pinpoint the source of the uproar. Suddenly, a hawk exploded out of an opening between the trees being chased by 5 or 6 other birds and was flying straight at the window I was looking out of. For a few seconds I thought it was going to crash right into the house! Then at the last second, the hawk pulled up and to the left and went over the house. I wish I had a video camera to catch the scene, but I probably would have had to answer a lot of questions on why I had a video camera in the bathroom in the first place.
The funny thing was that later that day I saw similar scenes twice. One time the hawk was flying for his life again and the other time it was sitting in the top of a tree in my neighbor’s yard being dive-bombed by a group of birds, each one taking its turn trying to move the much bigger hawk. I watched for about 10 minutes, the hawk almost falling twice, but spreading its wings to regain balance before it finally flew away on its own terms. Whatever the hawk was after, I hope it was worth the trouble it was going through because it was obvious that it was worth the fight to all the other birds involved. While I admired the determination of the smaller birds in keeping the hawk away, I also admired the perseverance of the hawk in going after its prize.
Perseverance is a bit strange when you think about it. There are dueling clichés regarding perseverance: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” versus “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. So you’re either trying hard or you’re insane. I guess it depends on your outlook – or possibly the outcome. We all love the stories of people who persevere, sometimes for years, until they finally achieve their goal, many of them when others have given up on them. We don’t really remember people who persevere for years and come up short every time, never achieving their goal. Most people love happy endings.
I remember how much my kids persevered when they were little. Everything they learned to do was learned through much perseverance. Everything from getting themselves dressed, to walking, to playing games to riding a bike all took time to master, to get right. Walking is especially a great example of persevering. How many times does a child fall down when they’re beginning to walk? Yet they continue to try, try again. Is that insane? Of course it isn’t. Imagine if they were like most adults are; fall down 3 or 4 times and that’s it, they’re done. I can almost hear them (well, if they could talk at that point in their lives), “I tried to walk, but I can’t do it. I tried. It’s too hard.” No one would ever walk.
Like many other people, I’m facing issues in my life right now. Some days I’m tempted to just give in and give up, to not persevere and get the issues fixed. In the short term that would be a lot easier. Most days, I’m ready to try and work on those issues and get them resolved. Unfortunately, there are little things pecking away at me, chasing me from my goal and making me feel like I can’t do it. I sometimes feel like the hawk, perched on a high branch in a tree, being dive-bombed by one thing after another and teetering on the brink of falling. Then my wife or one of my kids will do or say something nice or encouraging and I regain my balance and get myself upright again. Unlike the hawk, I know the prize is worth the trouble I’m going through now, all the perseverance and trying. It’s called family.