One step at a time, almost anything is possible.

I’d actually just like to skip the deep emotional dive now, please, and get talking about real-world matters: I mean, of the kind we can quantify, manage, and see with our very eyes. I think back to my growing-up-farming-days to pastures of hard, compacted clay, with patches of pigweed, burdock, thistles, mullein, pineapple weed (false chamomile), and sweet clover. These plants in particular I can picture easily: they grow in hard, gravelly or very clay-ey soils; the ground around the bases of the plants is hard and grey or light brown, and often rutted from the earlier passage of tires, boots or hooves during a wet spell. There is a particular smell, of dust and manure, often.

To me, this was persistence: weeds that are taking over. Hard to get rid of. Pull them, spray them (fortunately I never did), burn them, mow them down. It never seemed to occur to anyone that maybe focusing on the pasture around them could be another tactic: putting their intellect to work on improving the surrounding pasture, rather than rescuing the worst patches. It’s all part of a whole, is it not? And if you’re improving the whole, well, then – a rising tide raises all boats, does it not?

So much is oversimplified in offering advice. “Oh, you just need to do X, and problem Y will go away!” It’s very easy, and very disrespectful, and a very clear indication that you probably have no clue what you’re talking about. It’s one of the big rampant bugaboo issues in permaculture: all these PDC graduates running around telling seasoned farmers what to do and how to do it and why what they’ve already been doing for decades, or years, or just trying out, is wrong. And sometimes they are – sometimes, they are just upholding the status quo, and doing it the way it’s always been done – but there sure are better ways to offer up a better way.

The first, of course, is to go get your own experience. Go be wrong on your own clock, ground, dollar, whatever. Then come back and talk about it. That’s what we should all be aiming for, first: to gain experience, then the pulpit, not the other way around.

The problem with that is that it takes a whole bloody lot longer to do that than to learn as much as you can from books, and then jump up on the stand and tell others about it. And while the ideas and advice may be all well and good, there are few things that aren’t confined to certain contexts, and lots of advice made in one context and applied to a dozen others in which it doesn’t work, and may, in fact, be doing harm.

So here’s where persistence comes in: the persistence to get your own experience, and screw it up, and come back around to those you would offer advice to, and ask them: “What would you do?” and “What have you done in this scenario?” and “Have you ever heard of this?” And whether it’s status quo or not, and whether or not you take any of it to heart or disregard it all, you’ll be building a relationship, and it’s relationships that allow persistence to take place at all.

I’m glad that’s 554 words now because that sure rambled, but I got my point out. Relationships enable persistence, and persistence enables relationships.

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