Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tenacity and Perseverance

I have been pondering these words for the last 2 days because of this:

It snowed on Saturday.  Since then we have had rain and sun and most of the snow is gone.  The places it was piled up to clear parking lots etc are still there, now unceremoniously covered in dirt and not in the slightest bit attractive as when it was newly fallen.  But if you look around there are many tiny little patches of snow that have endured the sun and rain and remain there...... where they fell.....persevering through the sun and rain, tenaciously holding on.........

I love these little patches..... I think it's the rebel in me..... or the stubborn mule....... but I love these little holdouts who refuse to go where all the other snow went.  I got curious about the difference between "tenacity" and "perseverance" and found these delightful definitions.......

1.  doggedness, steadfastness. Perseverance, persistence, tenacity, pertinacity  simply resolute and unyielding holding on in following a course of action. Perseverance commonly suggests activity maintained in spite of difficulties or steadfast and long-continued application: Endurance and perseverance combined to win in the end.  Persistence implies unremitting (and sometimes annoying) perseverance: persistence in a belief; persistence in talking when others wish to study. Tenacity,  with the original meaning of adhesiveness, as of glue, is a dogged and determined holding on. Whether used literally or figuratively it has favorable implications: a bulldog quality of tenacity; the tenacity of one's memory. Pertinacity,  unlike its related word, is used chiefly in an unfavorable sense, that of overinsistent tenacity.

English minor that I am I had never heard of the word "Pertinacity" but admit to have maybe, once of twice, been guilty of it.

I have long believed perseverance is a laudable trait and one I have really tried hard to instill in my children.  I have often cited it as being a goal for my children when asked by their teachers what I was hoping they would achieve in school in a given year.   I find it disturbing when a child tries something new and fails at it and walks away without trying again....... and even worse, when an adult steps in and doesn't allow a child to try and try again.   What is the end goal of that?   A highschool drop out who doesn't know how to work hard and re-learn and re-try something? An athlete/dancer/performer who walks away from something because they aren't picked first or don't make the first team?  A spouse that walks away from a marriage when it fails to live up to its ideal?

I know this is a stretch from a patch of snow....... but I think it's worth thinking about.  Maybe that little patch of snow endures because all the little bits of snow stick together tenaciously.  Maybe our families and communities could learn a little from that?

This little flower is pretty tenacious...... it has decided not to live in the flower bed with the others, it has hopped the fence and is living on my front lawn , the wide open lawn....... it doesn't know that in a few weeks it will be mown down.... (oh relax - I will carefully move it back to the bed albeit reluctantly because I love it's spunk)... sometimes that happens when you stick to something doggedly..... you take a risk.... sometimes it pays off.....


  1. Just randomly stumbled upon your blog and wanted to thank you for sharing your insight with the world. :) We need more souls like you out there. Keep up the great work!

    1. Precisely what had occurred to me...

  2. Great insight! Doing a presentation to 8th graders on this! Thanks