I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up (still don’t!), so I took the LSATs, went to law school and became an attorney. I quickly realized I would have been a great lawyer if it wasn’t for all that darned fine print!
I love to work the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. It’s not the hardest of the week, that honor belongs to Saturday. It is the biggest, though, and for years, it has been just enough of a challenge to keep me coming back for more. Every now and then, I complete the puzzle in its entirety; most weeks I get through about 80-95% before I have to check the answers. (I feel the need to explain that I am fundamentally an honest individual, and I only check the answers when I have been “boxed” (get it?!) in and there are no alternatives. I’m sure you puzzlers know what I mean. (Tributary: all this nonsense about using a pen being “brave?” I find that it is safer and more efficient to write lightly with a pen. If you are wrong, you can write over your answer, even more than once. We all know what happens when we try to erase a penciled in answer, right? CHAOS!). But I digress.
So, a few weeks ago, I folded up my newspaper, got comfy on the couch and tucked into my puzzle. Something seemed different. As I perused the clues, I felt I was reading a foreign language. I could not decipher any of them; it seemed more like the dreaded Saturday puzzle. First clue-1 Across: SOLO PARTNER. Oh brother. Ok, next? This went on for some time. After about 15 minutes, with only 2 pathetic little 3 letter clues filled in, I put the paper down, to be picked up at another time.
When that time came, I went at it again, with the same results. OK, this is bad. Filled with exasperation, I said to myself “I’m done! I give up! Drats, drats and DOUBLE drats! (thank you, Dick Dastardly)” At that moment, I became a quitter. The puzzle stayed on the table for a few days. I picked it up, seeing it more as a museum piece, something from my puzzling past. Nevertheless, my instincts took over and I decided to have, maybe, one last try before I threw it on the fire (and myself as well, LOL).
1 Across: SOLO PARTNER. Jeez, man. Hmm. Solo partner? Wait, I know! I get it! CHEWBACCA! And it fit! As the endorphins flowed, and a feeling of utter serendipity took over, I patted myself on the back and said, “Boy, you ain’t no quitter after all!”
Moral of the story? Persevere. After you’ve tried, tried and tried and still failed. When you truly believe that there is no way to succeed. That all options have been exhausted. That quitting is the only sensible thing to do. Now, in life and work, there may very well be times when one should throw in the towel. Sometimes we really do get in over our heads, or attempt things that we really would be better off not attempting. We often think we would be good at things that we, in reality, are not. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do them; if it brings joy, then who cares? But many of us have at some point decided to pursue careers that ultimately were not a good fit. In these situations, a rethinking might be in order.
In my case, quitting was never really an option. So, my friends, if you, rightly or wrongly, believe in yourself and what you are doing, please, for your own sake, if not for mine, PESEVERE!
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David L. Reitman, Esq.