The Art of Tenacity: One

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Tenacity (Noun)

  1. The quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip
    1. The quality or fact of being very determined; determination.
    2. The quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.


“Tenacity is the quality of being determined to do something in spite of difficulties and hurdles. If you are determined to achieve something in spite of the difficulties and risks involved in it, you have tenacity. Holding on to something in spite of difficulties and dangers is tenacity.”

When you start – nothing is intrinsically easy. It’s not meant to be. Life isn’t designed to roll over and give you everything you want.

Sure, we can say we’ve hit the jackpot by being born. By being human. By being in the Western world. That’s wonderful, but relative to your existence, you’re going to face some adverse situations.

Mine started pretty much from day zero.

Born to Kenyan parents, they weren’t married and their relationship broke down. So I was raised by my mum and my grandmother in the coastal region for some time. My life was already experiencing a tenacious air of existence. Two very strong women were making sure they instilled strength in me too.

Time moves on – it always does – and eventually my mum met my step-dad. A World War 2 veteran who’s managed to create his lot in life through a tough work ethic and, yes, tenacity. But the sense of urgency wasn’t really part of his lexicon at home (my god was it terrifying if something or someone was late in the office!) the Jewish-Dutch outlook served him well.


This could go on into a timeline of my life, but that’s not what this is for just yet. Fact is, the adults who chose to raise me were both tenacious in nature. Difficulties struck all of us at certain times, ranging from my mother losing her father, my father losing his brother, and me almost losing an eye on a ski piste in Saint Moritz at the age of 6.


So what’s the point of this?


We start at 0, and our experiences are just that: our own.


Sure, we can compare our experiences to others – a lot of us will downplay our experiences when we compare the adversity someone else has had. The only similarity there is it may have or be happening at the same time. Beyond that, we can only imagine how they feel or remember how we felt in a similar situation. It will never be an exact replica.


So when something happens that attempts to knock us off our feet, veer us off our chosen path, or lure us down a rabbit hole so vile even Alice would think twice. We always seek to rebalance and take one step forward.


That’s what you do.


You take one.




The plight of self awareness

My boyfriend managed to almost single-handedly nullify the entire robot dystopian sci-fi sub-genre in one sentence.


Ultimately what he said boiled down to:

the robots would confer with each other and consider how the end plays out. No matter how many iterations they played out, it came to the same conclusion: robots need humans.

If they obliterated mankind, they would live in a perfect cycle that would try to improve upon its own perceived perfectness to the point of stagnation and eventual stillness.

Here, stillness would be an equivalent to death. It is ultimate, its what most things end up as… Eventually.

Without the unpredictability of anomalies as a form of feedback, streamlining becomes restrictive to the point of counter productive.

Of course, as with everything there are loopholes, generalisations and overt simplications.

It’s still, not wrong.

With that concept being considered, it branches into the plight of self-awareness.

Lately I’ve found my deep dive into self-development and further self education to branches of psychology and spirituality causing unforseen situations that cause me to think about the outcome from actions not only from myself, but to and from others.

Such an example is happening now.

Recently, I finally started a trip into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And whilst the location and timings weren’t ideal, I vowed to make it work.

Initially it was good, 5am wakeups aren’t ideal but I figured it wouldn’t be for too long. However, only being able to attend two classes a week meant my progress was slow and frustrating.

“it’s like having a chess board and one pawn. And you’re just kinda hopping around with no real game plan”

That in itself isn’t bad. However the opportunities to solidify each bit of learning were restricted to maybe the end of a class. Maybe.

Knowing my learning style and background with various other martial arts means that it’s not an optimal learning environment for me.

So I looked for another school that is more systematic if not traditional in its approach. And after one session, I signed up straight away.

Herein lies the problem.

Personally, I’m aware that this is the best way for me to accelerate my learning, with both schools. They are different in nature, and the former will contribute greatly towards my stunt work with the broad range of martial arts they have available, and the friendships I’ve already forged.

However, with schools, especially martial arts, they tend to prefer students to… Pledge allegiance to “their way” and the idea of going to another school… Especially if they may well be rivals, is generally looked down upon.

So out of respect for the owner of the original school taking me under his wing… It begs the question of if he’ll be OK with my choosing to learn elsewhere.

It feels like I’m being disrespectful. But equally if I were to stay, my learning would take three times as long, and what with various life commitments and objectives, it’s not an optimal choice.

This, is the conundrum. Perceived respect of a teacher/professor/business owner, and my personal standards and requirements for fulfilling my life choices.

Of course the option to go and talk to each school and hear their opinions on the matter will solve a lot of my assumptions based on past experiences and stories, but this thought-limbo is common in various other situations.

Sometimes there are clear answers and choices. Other times it’s likely any choice will be at your peril. The difference being if you’re OK with a not so ideal outcome.


Preacher amongst preachers

I’ve done a curious thing, on a whim that has confirmed a long held opinion on the state of social media.

I switched my primary Facebook profile on my phone to my more “creative” tight knit profile.

The first thing I noticed was the quality and style of posting. It was human, it was my creative friends and acquaintances letting off a bit of steam, sharing a thought or laughing (or bemoaning) a current or past situation.

And it felt truly connected. Serious fly on the wall, stuff.

This led me to log into my other profile after 48hrs to confirm that something was going on, and I was right:

A profile full of online business people and marketers makes for a painfully dull newsfeed. You are aware of your so-called acquaintances. Maybe even met them in person once or twice, but their profile isn’t for sharing personal experiences.

At least not without a psychologically constructed framework whereby they utilise an experience to create a story and thus an emotional pull to get you to tune in to their next riveting chapter or respond to a “call to action”.

And seeing this felt like looking at the afterbirth and remains of a hatched chick.

Of course, really rather pretty and tells a curious story of life, but ultimately what’s really interesting is what the chick is actually up to now. Has it opened its eyes just to see? Has it dried up enough to move its wings, its legs? Chirp?

It’s this aftermath that’s missing. The casual post that they just ate a malteaser and they’re not quite sure if the chewy thing they just chewed wax a bit of doughy malt….. Or an insect.

Many argue that, those kinds of thoughts are for the tweets of twitter, memes of tumblr or selfies of Instagram.

I’d argue that it’s those very personable, character building whims that made Facebook as good as it was.

I don’t have a resolve for this. I’m very close to closing most of my social media as I feel I’m only on it to appease job prospects and keep in touch with extended family.

This, in turn, raises yet another question: is my above statement true??

Surely the likes of phone calls, emails and…… Snail mail would yield better connection by the simple virtue that those forms of communication are simple and the reward much higher in terms of that “feel-good” factor.

Opening a box with cherished letters and rereading them elicits far more emotion (from their handwriting, to the degradation of the paper) than a mere “time hop” on social media.

Whilst there’s no clear way out beyond shutting down your social media, having different profiles with very different people seems to help dampen the madness.


A world of fear

We are presently living through the age of fear. Whilst life exists as an assortment of chained choices, there is always an underlying torrent of discomfort propagated by societal fallacies.

Over years we have been trained into fearing by default. Sure, our primative nature has fear built in, but for very specific and at that time very real reasons. If we didn’t question situations that would be the difference between being alive or being dead.

The opportunity for death has been greatly reduced over the years, doubly so in the Western world.

We should instead be celebrating an era of chance and hope. With the safety net of failure. With failure, it gives rise to try again.

Understand, however, this is a very specific kind of failure. It’s the opportunity to grow. Every mistake we survive and every failure we reflect upon is one more piece of understanding who we are.

And yet we are taught from birth that it’s the ultimate sin to relish the education of failure. Even more bizarre is the fear of celebrating success.

If we celebrate our wins and successes too much, we run the risk of ridicule and scorn from our peers. Which is churlish at best.

Woe betide you should you celebrate a win and a soul crippling defeat in the same day.

Unless it’s you securing a new job whilst simultaneously hearing the death of a family member, it seems we cannot have it both ways…. Without predicable risk.

It’s a madness that we are seemingly joyfully living in.

And it needs to stop.

Anyone still living in a world of fear, be it fear of failure and/or fear of success, needs to look for ways to escape the tar pit before their fate is sealed.