Stubbornly letting go

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Loren Webster writes compellingly, wonderfully, about the virtues of stubbornness:

More importantly, stubbornness got me through Vietnam. Unlike most of my fellow soldiers, I had few illusions about that war, but my stubbornness and unwillingness to give in to my feelings of despair got me through my tour there. I was determined to stay alive, and if that meant never taking a drink, never smoking anything stronger than a cigarette and experiencing the whole hell that it was while stone-cold-sober because that gave me the best chance of coming out alive, that’s what I would do. Stuck in a platoon that was dramatically understaffed with sergeants and experienced soldiers, I felt it necessary to assume responsibilities that aged me long before I should have been. Sheer stubbornness got me through that war without enduring psychological problems and allowed me to deal with the hostility I met in the “liberal” groups I ran with when I returned home.

I see a stubborn streak in all of the webloggers whose writing I enjoy on a daily basis. I sometimes wonder if this strength to hold one’s ground is the reason why I do like their writing, regardless of what they write about.

I am not a stubborn person. There are a few universal truths I hold on to with fierce grip: protection of the environment, a great dislike of war in any form, a disgust of hypocrisy, the importance of treating fairly with one another, and a love and appreciation of beauty no matter its form. However, outside of these philosophical generalizations, I hold on to very little else with any great strength.

You only have to look at how many times I’ve moved to see this. From Kettle Falls to Seattle to Salt Lake City to Seattle to Yakima to Phoenix to Yakima to Ellensburg to Seattle to Portland to Vermont to Boston to San Francisco, and finally here to St. Louis. And I don’t have even the excuse of being in the military to provide reason for my restlessness.

I also let go of people, as easily as I let go of places. The slightest hint that I have no place among the people I’m with, and I walk away. It’s in my nature to let go before being let go. Yet none of us have a place within any group that isn’t of our own making. Rather than walking away so easily, perhaps I should have held on, but found a different grip.

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