May 23, 2015

Persistence rewarded.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

-Calvin Coolidge

As a parent, I'm all too often concerned about getting it done, arriving on time, being sure they've eaten, said their prayers and finished all the homework. We're at the end of the school year and for one of my two, the end of high school itself. The end of the year seems to bring heaps of homework summarizing what they've learned before studying for final exams and then the end-of-the-year concerts, try-outs, banquets. 

In these weeks of work there are also honors. My daughter tried out for our high school's elite Madrigal Choral group and made it, and she was offered a singing spot on the Praise Team. She and her big brother performed a beautiful guitar and vocal rendition of City of Lions Shining Star. And after 4 years in the top jazz band, which meant Zero Period two to four days a week (depending on the year), my son was honored with the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award at the final jazz concert last night. Sure, I'm a proud mama, I'm thrilled for both of them truly. But the thing I'm most delighted about is that they get it. They understand the thing my dear, dear Uncle Jimmie shared with me and my cousins in our generation -- it's all about persistence and determination. And they have it in buckets. Buckets they're willing to carry and fill just about every day to get where they hope to go.

He wants to direct films, so since he was a freshman he and his friend Noah have shot footage, cut videos and made a couple of films to enter in festivals. (Both of them have taken top honors more than once together and on their own.) When my son didn't get in on the first round of (pretty competitive) film school admissions applications, he wrote appeal and support letters detailing the co-curricular work he does to augment his and his peer's school experience. He connected with counselors, admissions officers and deans to give them the reasons he should be a part of the student body. I was astounded by the quality and volume of work he did. And, it yielded an awesome result. He got in to one of the top 10 film schools in the country last week. It's a wonderful thing, the reward. But I honestly believe the gift was in the exercise -- perhaps the most valuable of his life.

In 6th grade my daughter and I attended Mother Daughter camp and found ourselves on a treasure hunt where, at one site, we were to share with each other something we really want to do in our lives. She shared that she wanted to become a singer. We wrote both of our dreams on rocks with a Sharpee marker and prayed, promising to uphold and support each other in these dreams. The very next week I sought out a vocal teacher who agreed to a six week trial for her. Five years later, after weekly sessions learning how to use her voice, she got into that Madrigal Choir and onto the Praise team.

God provides talent and I believe He also instills the dreams, it's a beautiful thing. But how many dreams do I have, do you have, that weren't really nurtured and attended to? Several for me. But those that get/got the attention and support of the sometimes agonizing work, are the ones we get close to or actually put our hand on.

When someone said the other day that my kids are lucky I graciously agreed (probably correcting to the word blessed in my head). But what I wanted to say is that they are lucky to understand that hard work is the only way you get what you want. Good old, determination and persistence. Not money or connections or even talent. Work.

My daughter was just invited to audition for a choir which, if she makes it, will perform at Carnegie Hall. She's ready to get to work preparing an Italian Song and one more classical offering for the audition tape. I'm excited at the opportunity she'll have -- upping her game in a tough genre. But ya know what came into my mind first? The joke.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?


1 comment:

Jeff said...

Nicely written Ravers.


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