In education, we often talk about these two terms as skills that we need to help develop in our students. Teachers work tirelessly to make sure they are offering opportunities for students to make progress in them. Sometimes we use these terms interchangeably, but are they?
Well, according to Merriam-Webster, persistence is “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” The definition for resilience per Merriam-Webster is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change.” I think the difference between the two is the continued effort required to be persistent and the ability to adjust easily in being resilient. On the Camino, both of these are required.
Every day we walk, we have to call on our persistence muscle. It’s a physical and mental continued effort to walk anywhere from 11 to 21 miles per day. You know what it feels like to walk a long distance, sometimes climbing steep hills or descending down a rocky path. And yet, you persist throughout the day because it is your challenge, your goal to meet. It will eventually come to an end and you know that. Therefore, you go on even though you may have little energy, your knees/feet may be hurting, or you are sweating every drop of liquid you are taking in. Persistence is your driving force.
Today was a particularly challenging day. There have been others but somehow today was extra special. Most likely it has something to do with that fact that my body is having to do something difficult so many days into the Camino. It was an 18.5 mile trek, with the last 5.2 miles requiring me to climb over 3,000 feet. I had already called in my persistence muscle with the 13.3 miles I had already completed prior to this challenging climb. This is where I needed to call in my resilience muscle. I needed to recover quickly to this adverse change in terrain.
To meet this challenge, the first thing that came out were my best friends, my walking poles. They support my form and help me breathe better which I definitely needed to do on this stretch. Next, I used the zig zag method of climbing in certain parts as they were long uphill sections with no leveling off. Finally, I took a break after about 50 minutes of straight climbing. It was a short respite that was very welcomed by my tired legs. All of these adjustments helped me stay resilient and not give up.
The Camino continues to show me how much this journey relates to life in general. We all have had moments in our life when we’ve had to be persistent and resilient. We have no other choice. Dealing with the trauma of a pandemic these past two years has required us to use these skills. What I know now is that I am much stronger than I think, and the only one placing limits on me is myself.
There is a quote that I came across in a running event that speaks to this very frame of mind. “ Don’t let the things you can’t do, stop you from doing the things you can do.” With persistence and resilience we are all capable of more.