Monday, October 7, 2013

"Yah, Mule!"

I've been told that I could teach a mule about being stubborn.  I couldn't.  You can't teach a mule anything - they're too stubborn - but I do have a streak of high-intensity-stick-with-it-ness.  When I feel like it.

I was pondering this yesterday while driving out to Target to pick up some hair clippers.  We've bought a car for my eldest son who got his license yesterday and I think the car may need a catalytic converter.  I'm not too worried about that, I had a car years ago that I replaced the converter on - probably my favorite car of all time.

That car was a 1986 Isuzu Impulse.  You remember them, the funny looking wedge car that wasn't a Triumph.  The first most impressive thing about that car was that, although Japanese, it felt and drove European.  The second most impressive thing was the performance they wrangled from the 1.6 liter turbo charged 4 cylinder mated to a manual 5 speed REAR wheel drive train.  I specifically remember one evening where two friends and I left dinner at Annie's Blue Moon Cafe in Brooklyn Heights.  I pulled out of the parking space with my wheels spinning, shifted into 2nd, kept the wheels spinning, and at the end of the block, shifted into third with the wheels still spinning.

See?  It isn't just in Washington where you can have power without any sense.

Where does stubborn come in?  Key words here are "Brooklyn", "manual", and "favorite."

I drove a manual through 16 miles of New York City gridlock every day for two years.  That was between 3 and 4 hours a day.  Probably a thousand shifts.  Each day.  I didn't have to jog.  It's a wonder that the clutch didn't fail.  The catalytic converter shattered (all the ceramic inside) from the banging around on the potholes.  Otherwise, that slick, black, wedge of a car loved New York.

But all that shifting.

I was stubborn about keeping that car.  I was driving a bus during the day, trying to make it fit between cars, sign posts, pedestrians, and even a hot dog cart one day.  Getting into that little sports car at the end of a long day and being able to fit through even tighter spaces...  Jumping off the line at a stoplight...  Lifting the back end out of a snow bank rather than shoveling like everyone else (I did have help)...  It was totally worth it.

And that's the key.  Harness your stubbornness and do something that's worth it.  Don't fight with your family, don't resist rule changes at the office, and certainly don't tell the cop writing you the ticket that his radar gun must be wrong.  It isn't, and you'll lose.  Be stubborn with value.  Get your draft finished.  Learn Swahili.  Run two miles without stopping.

There's something on your list that will make the world brighter.  Dig in your heels and make it so.

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