Perseverance — Thx Meg Wheatley

One of the books I’m reading these days is Margaret Wheatley’s Perseverance. I’m reading one or two pages each day. It’s something about these times, these CoVid times, that has me reaching deeper to the internal with rigorous truth-telling. I’ve found myself oscillating — at times, wanting to numb to what is current. At times, wanting to wake fully to what is systems-crash reality.

Meg’s book Perseverance was published in 2010. She’s been speaking an important story for many years about the kind of change we humans will eventually face. It includes these key points and practices.

  • A systems level crash is upon us. Overdue in some way. Stunning. Impactful.  Once one system comes down, the interconnected other systems also come down. It’s negative emergence.
  • In such crash, as practice, it is important to commit to externalizing. “There is fear. There is despair. There is terror.” These statements are deliberate to nuance ourselves into what is universal, not just personal.
  • In such crash, the honest internal matters. It is deep inner work that will pull us through. Do the work on self first. Do it with community, but still with explicit attention to what is internal. What we feel on the internal will always influence what we experience on the external.

Meg has been training into a vow for many years, that I’m finding lends courage.

“I cannot change the way the world is. 
But by opening to the world as it is 
I may discover that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available,
not only to me but to all human beings.”

So here we are folks. The times call for us to be good to ourselves, to be good to each other, those on our left and those on our right. The times require an awakening that is so much more than waiting for the “old normal” to return.

The times call for what has always been called for, but perhaps more poignantly in this pandemic — our perseverance to wake and face the day as it is.



Well, these are quite the times, aren’t they.

Lots of stuff happening on the inside — fears, worries. And on the outside — closures, cancellations, postponements. 

There is pain, let’s be clear. I tell myself that there will be more. Infections are spreading. The math is rather stunning.

There is need, let’s be clear on this also, to be calm. This is something that many of us know. Being calm (yet not blind denying) can also be infectious, with stunning math.

“Social distancing” is recommended approach. Yes. As is true with other forms of flu and cold, it’s best not to share. That’s what health officials and infectious disease experts tell us. So, we do our best. Wash hands. 

I want to name as additional recommendation how important it is, in these times, to spike together kindness, consciousness, and perseverance. “Community” isn’t newly important. It’s always mattered. How we express it might be different, but I want to stand for each of these — kindness, consciousness, perseverance — as inner commitments and attitudes.

This isn’t a zombie apocalypse. I suppose I don’t know that for sure. But I’ll guess that it isn’t likely.

What’s being revealed, in this times, I would suggest, is a dynamic of “everything is connected to everything.” It can rather fry the circuitry of our brains, our plans, our routines to be so “interrupted.”

Some people are dying. Yes. There are particular demographics of people that are most vulnerable. Yes. Lives are being changed. Yes. Some people are really confronting fear and worry. Yes. And pain. Yes.

Perhaps one of the things that will be birthed is in all of this is a different relationship with “normal.” Perhaps — and I’m suggesting this is a good thing — more of us will embrace inherent uncertainties and unknowns, that will grow us into a kinder people together.

“Everything is connected to everything” isn’t new. We humans are just seeing it in a unique way, and seeing it everywhere on news programs and in social media, whether named that way or not.

“Inherent vulnerability” isn’t new either. We humans are seeing it in a rather robust way, in these times.

Friends, “perseverance” is also not new. These times call for us to remember what we know, to not increase heroic denial, but rather to increase honesty and good listening — with ourselves and with others.

Prevention and “flattening the curve” are real. Because people are dying. People are getting sick.

I want to continue to invite in myself and with others, some of the most important and needed medicine in these times, coming to relationship with our own vulnerabilities. It’s waking to some of our denial patterns. It’s expanding our choices of response beyond numbing and fear. It’s growing. And turning to one another, with other people, who are also trying to figure that out. It’s not perfection to demand of each other, in these times. It’s willingness to approach the new, and perhaps, remember it as old.

There is a teacher here. It just might be a very different teacher than we thought. There is learning here. It just might be different than we thought it would be. There is humanity growing.

Here’s a few CoVid resources that I’ve particularly appreciated.

The Whidbey Institute’s (a retreat center) initial announcement — I loved their offering of practicality, and a call to “generous response.”

Tomas Pueyo’s Medium article (thanks Amanda Fenton for sharing), Why You Must Act Now — lots of projections and statistical conjecture that names the truth and robustness of living systems.

From GirlTrek (thanks Quanita Roberson for sharing) — this naming that there are people among us that have persevered before, and there are grandmothers that remind us of who we are.

This BBC article, 11 Questions Answered — Because I want to be informed enough, fierce enough, and discerning enough to know when to seek help, and when to take care of self.



On Shadow and Perseverance

Yesterday morning I’m sitting in my back yard on a small cement patio at wire meshed bistro table. It’s 9:00. It’s sunny. Skies are blue. It’s 70 degrees, and on its way to the mid 90s. I’m being quite slow in pace, welcoming a quiet Sunday morning. I have coffee. I’m listening to and watching sparrows and robins fly in and out two larger trees, and hopping on the ground. I’ve just had a spontaneous, fun, and nourishing FaceTime call with a friend, who also was in a slow Sunday. Ah, there’s something great about this pace. It’s not that way every Sunday.

While talking with my friend, I’m noticing this clump of weed / grass growing through a crack in the sidewalk. I’ve been away for much of the month, so I’m just kind of refamiliarizing myself with my yard. Again, glad for this slowed pace.

First, this weed clump impresses me — what grows through cracks is rather impressive. I’ve put in a fair amount of effort to remove such weeds. So, I’m a bit disgruntled to see the weeds back. But, pause…, I’ve always been impressed by what grows in the cracks of sidewalks, roads, and rocky mountain slopes. This bit of weed is really in full splendor. I’m loving, for the moment, it’s perseverance.

Second, I’m drawn to the shadow. The sun has now more fully risen above neighboring buildings. It’s shining through the mesh bistro table and chairs. It’s shining through this weed and grass clump. It has a beauty to it. I’m not surprised. But I am wowed in the moment. I’m quite drawn in to the detail of projected shadow onto this little bit of cement patio.

Ah, now for the freedom to wander in the way that I so enjoy. On a Sunday. Well, on most days. Outer gives access to inner. Inner shapes what we see in outer. The moment of now gives access to the longer arc. The longer arc feeds what we see in the now.

I’m drawn to what I perceive in this clump of weed for its persistence. And for its beauty. In short, I seek such persistence and beauty in myself. I seek to meet others in their version of persistence and beauty, whatever that version is, and whatever the complex mixing is of different versions. We humans, we all seek to be seen in some way, and to see others with an eye of beauty. This is the work of humans together — I would suggest it is more of the “how” that so many of us seek in being together.

I’m drawn to the image of shadow for its intricate detail. It too is rather beautiful. Oh, for any of us to look upon shadow with a certain kind of awe for its beauty. That shadow in us. The shadow in others. The shadow in us as a group. I’ve done a fair amount of shadow avoiding in my time. And I continue to learn to normalize the encounter so as to engage it with more kindness and learning. Shadow in self and in others can be tended, can be received with a certain kind of beauty, and, it’s arising is as sure as the sun coming over neighboring buildings onto this cement patio.

I’m glad for some slow pace to see things quickly. On a Sunday. With coffee. Following FaceTime with a friend.




I wrote recently about perseverance. In gratitude for Meg Wheatley’s book by the same name.

I’m picking up this book quite a bit lately. In the mornings. Randomly selecting a page. Reading the passage. Sitting quietly with it, the way I would a friend. And treating the passage as a kind of guide for the day.

Something in me is seeking. And tender. And persevering. And based on today’s reading, growing in patience.

The words below are all from Meg’s book, pages 140-141. Including the St. Augustine quote. There is a gift to essence, isn’t there.


The reward of patience is patience.
St. Augustine, born 354.



Perseverance is a journey seemingly without end.

Yet it has a few destinations or rewards, one of which is patience.

It’s not that we start out patient.
We don’t persevere because we are patient people.

We become patient because we have too.
There is no choice — the work is endless.

Everyday we have to make a choice.
Will we give up, or will we keep going?

When day after day we are willing to keep going we discover,
quite to our amazement, that we have become patient.

And then we just continue on.
Day after day.