Sunday’s Wisdom #95: Difficulty is No Excuse

“Just because the business will be difficult is no excuse for not making the attempt.”
– Lung Tien Ning, The League of Dragons
Temeraire, by Naomi Novik

The dragons Temeraire and Iskierka are among the most headstrong and stubborn of their species, which is already plenty headstrong and stubborn. No great surprise, then, that their daughter, Ning, may be the single dragon which most epitomizes such. She has quite an ambitious goal: the end of war. Of course her parents balk at that, wondering how she intends to accomplish this. She replies that she doesn’t know how she’ll do it yet, but she’s not about to give up without even trying.

Now, most of us, in our lives, will not have goals that are quite so grandiose as Ning’s but she does have a valid point. There will be all manner of things we want to do, and maybe should do, or even need to do, but which seem, to us, like insurmountable mountains, complete with obstacle courses of highly dangerous booby-traps in addition to the many natural hazards. It may seem impossible to us, and we will never run short of voices telling us exactly that: “it’s impossible, you can’t do it, give up.” But like Ning says, just because something is difficult, that’s no reason, or excuse, not to try.

I do want to say, there are legitimate reasons for failure. A critical injury, perhaps, may prevent our further success in a sport. We may make a bad judgment call, a mistake, and undo what we meant to do. We may be simply defeated by an enemy. We may die before our goals are fulfilled. We may even need to give up one goal in order to pursue a different one of greater urgency. But none of those valid reasons include “Giving up because it’s too hard.” That is the way of the bratty child and the complacent weakling, demanding that everything be easy. Pushing through difficulty, however, that is way of men and women of character and strength.

It’s a simple truth: quite nearly everything worth doing is hard. Indeed, the most important things we can do are generally the most demanding of all: gaining an education, making a decent living, a happy marriage, raising a family, improving the world around us in some small way, etc. None of those are easy. But they are worth the effort.

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