Saturday, September 30, 2006

Setbacks and Perseverance

To persevere is to continue in a course of action, in spite of difficulty or with little or no indication of success. My mother used to say, “Try, try again, and if you don’t succeed try again!” Sometimes that’s the lot of the boat builder, but for me, although I’ve had success with my latest project, building a Paradox trailer sailer, now and again, I have had to persevere until a particular item came right.

It is said that genuine Christian saints have this characteristic of ‘persevering’ with their faith - although they have their setbacks. Life for them is no bed of roses; indeed, because of their beliefs they can suffer ridicule and prejudice. Some would say that could apply to any person who practises a religion, and that atheists or agnostics also have their setbacks. The the rule of setbacks is universal,and perseverance may be needed to overcome them.

Boat building can become a sort of religion in which the rule of perseverance must be practised; without adherence to this rule it's unlikely a boat would ever be built. Without persistence, a boat builder is lost. He cannot be fainthearted. He must try, try and try again, until all problems are overcome. He has to be bold and confident. Once he doubts his ability to succeed, he is lost.

There can be little activity more stimulating for the boat builder than setting about his project. Whenever he tackles a new job, large or small, there is always a constant challenge. How best can each task be done well? He has to plan every sequence; then make available the necessary tools and materials before building that particular part. If the job goes wrong he must try again; perhaps by tackling it in a different way to achieve success. Perseverance is a fundamental characteristic of the successful boat builder.

By overcoming setbacks through perseverance the boat builder is richly rewarded. He has the satisfaction of seeing his progress, and, eventually, if he perseveres enough, he will have the greatest reward when he sees his finished vessel.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My Return Home

My last entry to this blog was about perfection and imperfection, and two months have passed since I considered the nature of these qualities.

While being in Australia, touring the eastern coastal margins by caravan, I have been challenged by the enormous variety to be found in nature - within the rainforests there are enumerable species of trees, plants, birds and butterflies, not to mention insects such as ants and termites, and, just to consider the variety of wonderful and beautiful orchids in the rainforests, is mind-boggling. All of these natural phenomena are marvellous to me, and so many of them seem perfect in their design and function, each being dependent on others for their survival. Take the shy cassowary as an example; this is a large bird that grazes on the fruit of the forest and unwittingly distributes seed via its droppings, thus sustaining the forest which the bird needs for its own survival and for the continuing existence of other creatures.

Travelling broadens the mind, so I’m told; although that may not necessarily be a good thing, particularly if one is easily influenced by harmful or bad practices readily accepted by those who live in foreign lands; for example, the white man through greed has decimated countless acres of Australian rainforest to replace it with sugar cane plantations and cattle ranches; in so doing he has virtually destroyed not only huge tracts of forests and the creatures within them, but the Aboriginal people who inhabited those areas for thousands of years without changing their nature significantly.

One effect my two month stay in Australia has had on me is to put things in perspective. It has shown me the vastness of the earth, and by contrast the smallness of man; yet despite his apparent insignificance he has wrought devastation on the planet. I confess I, to a degree, have by my boat building and travel by air to that ancient continent contributed towards man’s defilement of the earth upon which he depends for his future survival.