A brilliant friend of mine, Seosaidh, gave me the idea of looking at both the Shadow and the Bright of the various virtues… so, if perseverance is sustained effort in the face of obstacles and kin to self-discipline, the bright side of this would be consistent right action in the face of obstacles. The shadow, stubbornness, is of a particular kind: not knowing when to quit. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different (positive) results.
I have many instances of (bright side) perseverance in my own life – I play the long game and look down the road towards distant goals, but the shadow was hard for me to see at first. I really had a hard time coming up with an example. What have I stayed with and just refused to stop doing / thinking / feeling to the detriment of either myself or others?
I tend to say ‘yes’ instantly to things – especially art projects that turn out to be horribly time-consuming and work-intensive, that pay nothing (I’m a professional illustrator, it is how I make my living) and that crowd out paying work and things I want to do for myself. And I stubbornly persist in seeing them through to the end, no matter how much it drains me. I wind up giving up any art for myself, and all my own projects sit on the backburner, sometimes for years, while the quick, unthinking ‘yes!’ projects consume my life. I get to the point where I hate art, hate my profession and hate my life because I can’t say ‘no’ and I’m determined to never go back on my word. That’s where stubbornness harms me – it deprives me of the pleasure of bringing my own visions into reality, it deprives others of receiving that work, and it encourages me to remain stuck and unhappy. The ‘free’ work isn’t really free. It has a terrible cost, and I need to set boundaries.