When I was in middle school, I had an excellent music teacher who emphasized the importance – no, the necessity – of embracing two specific qualities in order to reach the goal of proficiency: Patience and Persistence. Now, I know that this is a basic tenet of the teachings of many “success gurus” (Napoleon Hill and Rick Warren among them), but this was the first time that I had encountered the mantra. And it impressed me so deeply that it has remained with me this long, and I revisit it often.
Patience and persistence. Over the years since learning this adage, I have come to understand the true value of these qualities, and have made conscious efforts to cultivate them in myself. I have found them to be the underpinnings of every endeavor in pursuit of lofty goals and elevated standards. Certainly they are essential when aspiring to learn and grow. In school, they serve us well – whether studying a musical instrument, a foreign language, math… In life they serve us even more highly – during job hunting, building strong relationships, in marriage, for parenting… To acquire a new skill, to acquire new knowledge, to achieve deeper understanding. Patience and persistence.
The Labyrinth offers us this gift. The path lays open before us, inviting us to practice these essential qualities. The opportunity, with every step, to stretch our own boundaries. Being patient enough to stay on the path, even though it takes longer to reach the center than simply stepping over the lines and immediately arriving. Being persistent enough to remain on the path, even when it seems as though each step seemingly takes you farther away. Releasing frustration (or pushing through it). Trusting what you know, trusting your progress, trusting the journey. This is one of many lessons of the labyrinth.