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Perseverance and Flexibility with Vision Loss

This morning was yoga. The yogini took us through a series of poses that culminated in Bird of Paradise. One person - another yogini - got the full pose. Another one had a decent approximation. When I complimented him, he said something about not being able to do it for too much longer. I said, “Yes, but you will still keep trying.” That earned me a smile.


Perseverance is persistence in doing something in spite of difficulties or delays. It is a virtue, a behavior showing high moral standards. It ain’t always easy. Probably why it is a virtue.

Perservering though vision loss Being visually impaired calls for a lot of perseverance. Suddenly, things that we could do with ease are difficult. In order to accomplish them, we have to persist. When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Lovely. Two things that give me fits are plugging something into an electrical outlet and engaging a zipper. I probably had those things mastered at five. Now they require persistent effort. Persistance and patienceFortunately for me, I am a persistent person. My mother called it being stubborn. She also would tell me to go ahead and do things. There was not going to be any rest in my body until I had my own way...maybe not SUCH a BAD thing? Anyway, I sort of have perseverance down cold, but I am lacking in many other virtues. Patience comes to mind immediately. Don’t ask me to be patient! Which brings up the question: How do we cultivate a virtue like perseverance or patience?What is Sankalpa?The Eastern philosophies have a concept called Sankalpa. Sankalpa is the un-resolution. Resolutions are sort of negative. You resolve to stop smoking or stop eating sweets. Sankalpa is positive. You resolve to focus on a specific goal. You chose to manifest or create something rather than eliminate something. What you resolve to manifest can be a variety of things. One thing it can be is, as I indicated, a virtue. And since you cannot force other people to be virtuous, it has to be a virtue in yourself.Reaching goalsSimply put, the way to do this is to decide you want to be a certain way - persevering, for example - and then every day you find a way to practice being that way. Try one more time before giving up. Then try again. Tell yourself you are not a person to be defeated easily. Try again. Remind yourself Edison made 1,000 attempts before he was able to produce a working light bulb. Try again. By trying again and again, you are manifesting perseverance. You have made it!Perseverance is a good thing to have in and of itself. After all, it’s a virtue! However, very often we are using perseverance to get us to other goals. This is where the “yes, but” comes in. If at first you don't succeed, try again another wayHave you ever heard Einstein’s definition of insanity? Insanity is doing things the same way and expecting a different result. How we persevere towards a goal can take many forms. Just as Edison did not do the same thing 1,000 times in a row, we should not either. There is more than one way to skin a cat! FlexibilityWhich brings up another positive trait: flexibility. Vision loss requires we have that, too. The old ways of doing things may not work. Perseverance towards a goal without being willing to be flexible about how we get there does not work. It did not work for Edison. It did not work for Einstein and it won’t work for us. So, manifest perseverance in the face of your vision loss, but be open to doing things differently too. I would not have wanted Einstein to think we were crazy!

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