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Prioritizing Persistence

SONY DSCThis egg-encrusted muffin tin is the result of the evil that is Pinterest.  I found what seemed a wonderful idea for quick breakfasts:  Crack an egg into each compartment of the muffin tin and add whatever you like with your eggs — sausage, onions, etc.  Then bake, remove from tin, and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them.  So I sprayed the tin with oil, put in my eggs, bacon, cherry tomatoes, and other goodies, and baked them up.  Removing them was not so easy.  Even having sprayed the pan, the eggs stuck.  A lot.  I knew it would take a lot of scrubbing to get the residue loose, so I soaked the tin… and then forgot about it until it started to stink up the kitchen.  Stephan and I decided to put it in the dishwasher just to get the worst of the egg off, knowing we’d probably have to scrub it later.  I’m not sure the dishwasher got any egg off.  So I was faced with this monstrosity.

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I began to scrub, and while I scrubbed, I thought about persistence.  I don’t enjoy doing dishes, and this stupid eggy muffin tin was not helping.  I scrubbed six of the compartments, thought to myself, “There’s probably a blog post in this,” and stopped to take a picture.  Returning to scouring again, I thought back to comments and conversations I’ve had recently about perseverance.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a birthday gift of some earrings she had made for me.  Along with them was a card on which she had given me a nickname: Perky, a.k.a. Perseverance.

Neither of those words is what I would choose to describe myself.  I’d choose Melancholy or Wary or Introverted over Perky. And instead of Perseverance, I might characterize myself with the word Duty or Responsibility or Obligation.

Funny how others see you, isn’t it?

SONY DSCStill washing, I began to think about my mother-in-law, who comes to our home for our community dinner.  Afterward, she usually joins other women in the arduous task of kitchen clean-up.  One task she often takes on is the the Sysiphean job of cleaning the stove of its grease and cooked-on food.  I mentioned to her that she has far more perseverance than I do.  I give up on the stove easily.  She countered that she sees a lot of persistence in me.  I’m not sure what she sees; her eyes spy something in my character to which I am blinded.

By this time, I was beginning to think about throwing away the ridiculous muffin tin.  Not only was I unsure I was getting all the egg out, but I was noticing that the Teflon had begun to chip away and the metal was rusting.  (I think this had been happening over time and was not a result of The Egg Incident, but having never before spent such quality time with my muffin tin, I hadn’t noticed.)  Surely my time was worth more than the cost of a measly muffin tin.

But part of me wanted to live up to what others see in me.  If they see persistence and perseverance, why should I give in to giving up?

So I scrubbed.

And I thought about things that I have been tenacious with.

Getting a teaching job was one.  I applied for scores of positions and had multiple interviews.  Still, I was ready to give up and just settle for being an aide, except for my husband who prodded me onward for one more application.  Besides, our livelihood was at stake.

Running is another.  This week, I really did not want to go for a seven-mile run, but I did it anyway.  I kind of don’t feel like running the half-marathon that I signed up for.  But I most likely will.  Still, I run because I mostly enjoy it.  I like how the exercise makes me feel both mentally and physically.  There are benefits to running that I don’t want to lose, and that’s why I do it.

Perhaps I could consider writing a third thing with which I am enduring.  It often falls to the bottom of my to-do list, and sometimes gets abandoned altogether, but I always come back to it.  Still, it’s because writing gives me an outlet than nothing else does.  The process organizes my thoughts and the creativity connects me with my Creator.  I am more human when I take time to write.

SONY DSCBy this time, the muffin pan was as clean as it was going to get under my supervision.  I couldn’t see any more egg, though the sides of each compartment still felt bumpy, as if there was food there that I couldn’t perceive with mere eyesight.  And Stephan got home and said that what with the rust, we should probably either use paper muffin cups next time, or use our silicone muffin pan.

Which made me wonder why I dedicated so much work to washing the goofy thing.

And left me with questions about perseverance.

Maybe I am only persistent with things I have prioritized as being important.  A clean stove, while desirable, is not as important to me as a good book.  Dust-free furniture is less critical to me than the exhilarating exhaustion of a long run.

So do I persevere?  Or do I just prioritize?  Don’t all people persist at those things that are important to them?  Can we be called indefatigable if we enjoy the task we’re doing or if it gives us pride or joy or satisfaction when it’s complete?

What’s the difference?

I haven’t figured that out yet.

What I have determined however, is that those eggs weren’t all that good anyway and totally were not worth the effort it took to clean the muffin pan.

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About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

2 responses »

  1. Mike pointed out the other evening that mending those socks was not worth my time.
    But, what else could I be doing while watching TV, I thought.
    I like your priorities and need you to keep reminding me when I ‘waste’ precious time on futile efforts (Sysyphean! I had to look that up.)
    Perhaps I would read more books then. Hmmmm…
    Great post!

    Reply
  2. Except for the running thing we are practically twins (I’m eyeing all the dust on my computer desk even now). I think that people think of us as persevering when we’re doing something that they perceive as difficult – like the running thing. I’m impressed with your dedication to it because I don’t have that same dedication to any kind of physical activity.

    It was so good to meet you yesterday!

    Reply

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