Friday, January 15, 2010

You and what army?!!!

Since we’re a couple weeks after New Years Day, and lotsa folks are probably currently struggling to keep what’s left of their New Years Resolutions, I thought I’d talk a little about “willpower”. Hopefully, I can motivate you to try, try again!!!!

It’s willpower, after all, which separates the successful resolutions from the substantially more prevalent “better luck next years”.

I feel qualified to write about the topic of “willpower”, because, quite frankly, I have it. Lots of it.

Three years ago, for instance, I made a New Year’s Resolution to write a newspaper column each and every week, which, in over 17 years of publishing newspapers, I had simply neglected to do. Now, however, after applying a modest amount of willpower to my 2007 New Year’s Resolution, I am at this moment writing a column for the 156th consecutive week… three full years… all because I have the willpower of a block of granite.

Most of my friends and acquaintances do not acknowledge my willpower.

They recognize this personal characteristic of which I speak, but consistently mislabel it as a “character flaw”, referring to me with somewhat unflattering terms such as stubborn, mulish, pig-headed, opinionated, obstinate, obdurate, obstructionist, inflexible, headstrong, immovable, and a thick-headed, lame-brained, good-for-nothing, backwards jackass.

What it really is, of course, is a collection of the highly sought after traits of Persistence and Tenacity, and Unwavering Willpower: doggedly determined, and relentless in my pursuits.

In fact, it is thanks to these much sought after “never give up” qualities that I have never once in my entire life lost an argument! (Friends and acquaintances, out of sheer jealousy, I suppose, claim it’s because I simply keep arguing until eventually the other side goes away, or slips into a coma from boredom.)

My willpower also manifests itself in other, less obvious, ways. Fashion trends, for instance.

It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement by wearing the latest styles of the 60’s and 70’s. It’s just that… “don’t fix what’s not broken!” Eventually, the rest of the world will probably come back to lime green leisure suits, eight-inch wide neckties, and flare bottom jeans. In the meantime, I ain’t changing!!!

If I had been alive in the 1920’s or 1930’s, I probably would have been good at those dance marathon contests I’ve read about. Also, pole-sitting.

Had I grown up in the frigid climates of the north, I’m pretty sure I would have been that kid in the movie who got his tongue stuck to the flagpole… that is, IF I had been Double-Dog-Dared! (Of course, I would never have whined about it, or let the fire department come rescue me. I would have insisted that having my tongue stuck to a pole was my plan all along, and possibly would have just stayed there until the spring thaw.)

Back in 1996, some readers will recall, I actually DID water ski 162 miles from Columbia to Charleston partly as the result of a Double-Dog Dare (and partly as the result of a Coors Lite-inspired boast, as was my occasional custom in my lost younger years.)

I suspect I come by my obstin…. oops… willpower quite naturally. When my Dad was a member of the SC House of Representatives in the early 1960’s, he once set a record for filibustering, standing at the podium and speaking non-stop for over 24 hours to kill a piece of legislation to which he was opposed. Thirty years later, as a member of the Senate, he filibustered again, talking all night long just a week after getting his new pacemaker. Blast the doctors’ orders!!!

Truth be known, this kind of stubb… I mean… willpower is a part of our South Carolina culture. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that our state voted to secede from the Union and declare war on the most powerful nation on earth… without an army, navy, air force, or military of any kind.

Don’t let my easy-going, laid-back style fool you. I may look like I’m chilled out, but when I need to be, I can be as pig….. er…. determined as they come.

So, my advice to anyone who is struggling with those New Years Resolutions is this:

“Hang in there, baby! Don’t let ’em talk you down off that flag pole.”

Remember the examples of George Washington Carver, Ghandi, and General Stonewall Jackson. (And for that matter, General McArthur and General Patton, too. But try not to think of General Custer.)

To paraphrase FDR and Churchill:

“Nothing can make you cave in but caving in itself!”


“Never, never, never, never, never give up your favorite pair of shoes, no matter how many decades old they may be.”

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