The Follow-Through

The 16th leg of the virtual Camino.

Our guide says the intention for the day is to contemplate persistence. And though I know it’s not at all what she intends, my immediate association with the word is the Persistence of Memory.


Dali takes an odd perspective on persistence: but it feels true to the warping that can occur when we press something, either into – or from – our memory, or press with the physical insistence of our body while moving through a landscape.  We make our marks on the world. Cairns. Graffiti. Our DNA.

We leave footprints wherever we go, because the only alternative to persisting is to be pulled into the flow of events and information – wherever they takes us. And while that can be a wondrous respite, the thrill of the grab-bag prize, most of us have a very human need to make sense of things. And by make sense, I mean make shapes: we outline the shadows into boogeymen or saviors , we map the dramaturgy of our stories.

We persist in our desire to reach a specific destination, or to maintain the status quo.

Heraclitus said change is the only constant in life. So persisting in the effort to maintain the status quo, digging my heels in, will bring me deeper into the earth – whether or not I allow myself to notice. There is no status quo. And as for a specific destination – sometimes I think the only way to reach a goal is to come at it obliquely. Persist, yes, but move without blinders or a cow-catcher because there is so much to take in, and take on, along the scenic route.

A lot of my ambivalence is a matter of choosing to persist, or to relinquish.

I like the word relinquish. There seems to be a will involved with the letting go. It isn’t a true synonym for submit, at least not in my mind. What I can relinquish I can take up again when I’m ready.

Maybe there is a natural rhythm to persisting and relinquishing. Like breathing out and breathing in. And a pause of consideration: What have I learned now? What do I want now?

Do I follow-through for the sake of the having-had-followed-through? I know there is a value in that. A lesson. A praxis.

But at some point, I have to ask myself what the little medals-of-completion are for? Do I need this lesson, or is persistence rooted in the desire to put something in the trophy cabinet on display?

I have committed to the vitual Camino de Santiago. There are so many reasons to walk the Camino. For the physical challenge, for the religious rite, for the quiet contemplation. Or – let’s be honest – for the bragging rights. And – to be honest – I have wanted to take the month-long trek for many reasons.

But there’s be no stamp in a passport to conspicuously leave lying on my coffee table. And my hamstring issues aborted my attempt to physically recreate the pilgrimage here in the Jæren landscape. That leaves me with the time set aside for contemplation.

Today I contemplate persistence. And admit to myself that I have  two projects I neglected this year. I did not relinquish them. I did not persist. I simply lay back in the stream, and submitted to the flow of days, pretending I didn’t have a choice. I was too busy. I forgot.

So as I make this trip, I will focus on the breathing in and the breathing out: the relinquishing (inhale) and the persistence (exhale). This is how the mind gives up “busy” – and does not forget. It is how the spirit persists.



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