There’s a lot of talk about perseverance these days. How it maketh the man and what a supreme virtue it is. Like our beleaguered Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, I come from a Presbyterian background where perseverance is everything. Parents stay together and work at their misery. The phrase try, try and try again is employed when any failure may occur, no matter how ludicrous the challenge or futile the effort. Admitting defeat is anathema. The only acceptable excuse for failure is death through blind devotion and overwork.
There was a time in my life where I ticked just about all the boxes of Calvinist indoctrination (except the actual religion); a time when I came dangerously close to paying the ultimate price of blind perseverance. I knew I should have admitted defeat but years of diligent programming told me it was unthinkable, fate would decide my future.
In the end an escape committee of friends, intuition and luck came together and sprang me from the dour and endless maze of work and guilt. People who know me in the post-perseverance age still think of me as a workaholic. But I’m recovering and a million times happier to have stared Presbyterianism in its awful dead eyes and won.
Knowing when to fight and when to retire gracefully is the hardest but best lesson that life has ever taught me.