Perseverance and Insanity

I got my wisdom teeth out today and there is nothing like a residually drugged state to spur some vaguely deep thinking. Here’s what’s on my mind:

I’ve been thinking a bit about the difference between perseverance and insanity. If you go with Einstein’s definition of insanity:

it seems a whole lot like this:

Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

-Oxford Dictionary

Even if you take a look at the classic examples of perseverance that go on inspirational memes–JK Rowling unsuccessfully applying to 12 publishers before being accepted by one or Michael Jordan getting cut from high school basketball–they seem to fit the first definition at least as well as the second.

It seems that we judge the difference by the results. We decide that the wildly successful author/artist/athlete/entrepreneur was right all along and true to their convictions, while the struggling and unemployed one was simply a delusional kid with an overinflated sense of self-worth and a refusal to grow up. But if we judge by their actions alone, these people are often indistinguishable.

I guess we try to separate these people with two labels because we don’t want to admit that our futures can be out of our control. It’s far easier to attribute success to moral superiority and failure to moral faults than to acknowledge that a fine line of luck and timing often separates the two.

So where do I fit in to all of this? I sometimes question my commitment to dance (but in a detached, hypothetical way, knowing that giving up isn’t a real possibility for me). Some people praise my persistence, while others try to convince me that it’s insane and immature, and truthfully, I can’t really argue with either. Without the results, I don’t know. I just keep going with faith that something in me can make me more than a statistic in world with really crappy odds. Just like everyone else. Or not.


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