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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Ready for my close-up and 'Grit'

Our neighbors feed the deer.

Yesterday afternoon, I watched a doe chewing leaves off one of the trees in their backyard. Earlier, I had seen the woman of the house leave something out back — maybe some melon. Now it was gone, and the doe, who looks pregnant, was onto leaves.

I cut up a Gala apple and took it outside, and called to the deer. I’m not sure what I said. “Hello,” maybe. Or perhaps “Hi, sweetheart,” the way my grandfather talked to his grandchildren and his poodles a thousand years ago. 

I tossed a small chunk of apple to her 20 feet away. She ate it and walked closer. I threw another bit, a little less far, and she walked toward me to get it. We did this six or seven times until she was almost close enough for me to hand it to her directly. She watched me, and I could tell that she was assessing the risk. I wondered about her wet nose and whether I would be brave enough to let her take a piece of apple from my hand. After all, she might bite, and that would not be a small wound.

But I ran out of apple, and when I went inside for more, my dogs got into an argument with each other and scared the doe away. I hoped she knew it was them, and not me.

She would be welcome to come back. I could give her rose petals and silent blessings.


It would be a mistake to use the phrase “self-help” to describe Angela Duckworth’s nonfiction book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. While, yes, she intends her research into personal grittiness to be useful, she spends most of her time describing grit and how successful people use it rather than giving readers numbered steps to follow.

Here’s what I took: People who succeed at high levels have well-defined priorities around work they’re passionate about, and they develop habits that keep them bouncing back after failure. Duckworth says this all in much more interesting detail, which as we know is where the devil is. One note worth underscoring: She makes a point to spend time with the idea of intentional practice, which is focused time that artists, athletes and the like spend honing particular skills.  There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but Duckworth frames the pieces nicely and offers hope for those who need a little more grit in their souls.

1 comment:

valorie grace hallinan said...

I love books like this that help me keep going as a writer. Love your illustration, too, and how you write with such clarity and simplicity and cut to the chase.