Patience + Perseverance
April 1, 2019 4:29 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite quotes or short passages about having patience and persevering? Positive and encouraging excerpts from religious texts, poems, etc are especially welcome. Thank you.
posted by Hermione Granger to Religion & Philosophy (26 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

Mary Oliver

What is the good life now? Why,
look here, consider
the moon’s white crescent

rounding, slowly, over the half month to still another
perfect circle —

the shining eye
that lightens the hills,
that lays down the shadows

of the branches of the trees,
the summons the flowers
to open their sleepy faces and look up

into the heavens.
I used to hurry everywhere,
and leaped over the running creaks.

There wasn’t
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do

in a single day. Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart

as another good idea.
I say this
as I stand in the woods

and study the patterns
of the moon shadows,
or stroll down into the waters

that now, late summer, have also
caught the fever, and hardly move
from one eternity to another.
posted by jj's.mama at 4:34 PM on April 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

The following poem by Lucille Clifton reminds me to take my time and be in the moment and let it reflect on our selves and the world.

cutting greens
curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black,
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and I taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.
posted by jj's.mama at 4:37 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God."

(Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Carrion Comfort")

"Do not disturb yourself by picturing your life as a whole; do not assemble in your mind the many and varied troubles which have come to you in the past and will come again in the future, but ask yourself with regard to every present difficulty: 'What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?' You would be ashamed to confess it! And then remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passed that afflicts you, but always the present, and the power of this is much diminished if you take it in isolation and call your mind to task if it thinks that it cannot stand up to it when taken on its own." (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)
posted by praemunire at 4:40 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:14 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

So one that I actually find helpful is explicitly religious, and weirdly I am an atheist. It is, "Not my will but thine be done." For some reason this makes me think that even if what I am doing doesn't feel like it's serving me--it's not what I actually WANT to be doing right now--it is serving someone/something else, bigger goals, even if those goals feel ridiculously far off to me. There are probably better ways to say this for an atheist, but for some reason this works for me.

I also have a playlist that I call Just Keep Swimming that has a lot of songs with those themes. Some of my favorite bits from that:

I'm up on bricks, yeah I got no new tricks, but I'm a machine and I was built to last. -Frank Turner
We got this far, not by luck, but by never turning back. -Mary Chapin Carpenter
posted by gideonfrog at 5:32 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

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
posted by mefireader at 5:33 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Something a little more modern than my prior response:

Look for the sign of Daniel:
Consider the clues:
And wait as long as I have to
For good news.
Wake and rise and face the day
And try to stop the day from staring back at me
Busy hours for joyful hearts and later
Maybe head out to the pharmacy.
Won't take the medication, but it's good to have around--
A kind and loving God won't let my small ship run aground.
If you will believe in your heart and confess with your lips,
Surely you will be day.

(Mountain Goats, "Romans 10:9")
posted by praemunire at 5:39 PM on April 1, 2019

Is what I want now, what I want the most?

It's not super fancy but that phrase is above my computer right now & keeping me on my diet & getting me through some major life changes.
posted by wwax at 5:56 PM on April 1, 2019 [16 favorites]

"It will all be OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end."

I've been trying to find the original author ever since I heard Tyne Daly say it on Judging Amy about 18 years ago. Since then, I've heard that it has been said in AA and Buddhist circles, and someone was convinced it originated in The Exotic Marigold Hotel (produced much more recently) but I've never been able to find a reference earlier than the Judging Amy scriptwriter/producer, Hart Hanson.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:58 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

If this was something I used to do before coffee, that probably meant I was up all night. Persistence >= talent.

- Jeff Par
The road to wisdom? — Well, it's plain
and simple to express:
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less.

- Piet Hein
the place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.

- James Baldwin
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons ...Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

- Vaclav Havel
posted by zamboni at 6:04 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Miss Tick sniffed. 'You could say this advice is priceless,' she said. 'Are you listening?'
'Yes,' said Tiffany.
'Good. Now ... if you trust in yourself ...'
'... and believe in your dreams ...'
'... and follow your star ...' Miss Tick went on.
'... you'll still get beaten by people who spent THEIR time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.’

— Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men
posted by Mchelly at 6:05 PM on April 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Patience is the key to joy.

Attributed as a Chinese proverb.
posted by effluvia at 6:19 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

One of my favorites - this Oprah segment when an audience member asks her how to keep going after hitting a wall in your career and Oprah tells the story of wanting to be in The Color Purple (the story starts at 1:30).
posted by sallybrown at 6:23 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson
posted by Glinn at 6:37 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
- Albert Camus
posted by flabdablet at 6:56 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Years ago I had a cello teacher who used to remind me “more haste is less speed.” 40-something years later I still say it to myself when practicing the guitar and tempted to fudge a lick or play an easier version than what’s on the record. The only way to master “fast” is to repeat “slow” over and over and over again. And then do it again the next day. And the next.

He always attributed it to “G. K. Chesterton,” as he attributed many pithy quotes of likely folkloric origin. He was a very eccentric Londoner. Anyway I just looked it up and found this:

This proverbial saying is found in John Heywood's 1546 glossary A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the englishe tongue:

“Moste tymes he seeth, the more haste the lesse spede.”

I may try saying that to myself instead.
posted by spitbull at 7:37 PM on April 1, 2019

Any quotes that also serve as a gentle and kind hug for being patient?
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:01 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sometimes when I'm despairing I think of the lyrics from Loudon Wainwright's "The Swimming Song" (beautiful cover by The McGarrigle Sisters):

This summer I went swimming
This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around

It just reminds me to keep going when things are really hard.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:06 PM on April 1, 2019

Drop by drop, the mighty river is formed.

--Pashtun proverb.
posted by rpfields at 8:34 PM on April 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really like the poem "Winter Beachhead" by Nuala Ni Dhomhniall:
They sail in their glory; we have to bide our time
and hold out for the fullness to come—
for spring sands merry with foxes’ tails,
or kelp tresses, for clam and cowrie shells.

posted by TwoStride at 8:49 PM on April 1, 2019

Are you aware of cortex's Everything is fucked (keep on going)? It gets me off my butt on difficult days when I'm considering throwing in the proverbial towel.

Sometimes everything is fucked
Sometimes everything's
An unrelenting pile of shit
Sometimes you don't know what to do
Where to go, how to be
How you're gonna get through this

Well, you write it down
You sing it out
You don't give in
You don't tap out
You just keep on going
Even when everything is fucked

You keep your eyes open
You keep your chin up
You keep your eyes open
You keep your chin up
You keep on going
You keep on going
Even when everything is fucked
posted by she's not there at 9:39 PM on April 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

This thought helps me to be patient: The universe is unfolding as it should.
posted by SyraCarol at 12:32 AM on April 2, 2019

Julian of Norwich's famous words: "but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

The context is that this is an answer to her question of why the world is full of suffering and evil. She was physically in a great deal of pain at the time, and she wrote this down as a response God gave her. The words are meant essentially as compassion - there is such suffering and the future is so terrifying, but be assured and have faith: all shall be well.

She went on to continue to suffer more bouts of intense pain but also to be our earliest female English author and in her time, famous as a figure of intellect and spiritual advice living in a small stone room with her cat, thinking and hoping.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:19 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

What's for you won't go by you
posted by Morpeth at 3:52 AM on April 2, 2019

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu. Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick." (Matthew 12:20) Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows what true growth requires. A gentle person knows that true growth requires the patience to nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us. —Henri Nouwen
posted by R2WeTwo at 5:45 AM on April 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

William Morris said that ‘You can’t have art without resistance in the materials’
posted by sol at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

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