This plaque was on my grandmother’s kitchen wall from my first memory. My mother inherited it, and it lived on her kitchen wall until I lost her five years ago. Now it’s on my kitchen wall, a constant reminder of two remarkable women whose lives held suffering and hard times but who were never defeated by the challenges all our lives can encounter. And best of all, they never let hardship prevent them from being open to joy.
We all hit rough spots, some which seem insurmountable, but this piece of advice is invaluable and timeless. Hard times are inevitable in a life, and the importance of perseverance can’t be overstated. Witness the recent comeback of Tiger Woods, whom many people had written off as a once-golden-boy turned has-been, someone who let success and good times derail his work ethic and who, in the absence of his dad’s guidance, lost a career for the ages.
Except he didn’t. He could have slunk off in humiliation, could have let the naysayers win. Instead he buckled down, tried and failed over and over to get back into his winning groove—but then, 15 years after he’d won his last Masters tournament, because he never gave up, he wore the green jacket again, this time with his son and daughter watching him triumph. What a life lesson for those kids!
On a much smaller and less-grand scale, when I first began writing, I wrote and wrote and worked very hard for what felt like eons to sell my first book. One weekend, after receiving the most brutal rejection letter yet, I despaired of ever making it over the hurdle. This was in the days before indie publishing, when the fickle tastes of editors could make or break a writer’s dream. I’d come close, I’d won awards, but I’d never made it past the magic door, and I felt that I never would.
I wanted to give up really badly. I nearly did. But I am proud to say that three days later, I was working on yet another book when my phone rang, my agent on the other end saying the magic words: “They want to buy your book.”
The door opened to a whole new life for me, the first time I ever felt that I’d found my calling after many years of dead-end jobs. As it turned out, the road I was on was not paved with yellow bricks, and there was no Emerald City at the end. Hard times didn’t go away, and I needed that stick-to-itiveness more than ever in ensuing years.
But the lesson of my grandmother and mother was always with me, and heartaches and disappointments still happen, but because I’m still in the game, I get to experience the immense thrills and joys every time one of you writes me a note to tell me what one of my books means to you. And that keeps me going.
We’re not quitters, we romantics. We don’t give up on what matters. You matter, and you have a greater impact on me than you’ll ever know.
Never Give Up. Something wonderful might be right down the road.