Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The first time I heard George Winston I was about 18 and had just gone off to college.  I was exposed to new things everywhere, some of which I quickly moved away from, some which have become an integral part of who I am, but this music has been a constant since I first heard a friend play his music in the dorm.  We studied Biology and Chemistry to his music my entire freshman year.  I can still picture the cassette tapes we had back then. I had a cassette of his when I delivered my first child.   I've now been to three GW concerts, one with my mother, one with my sister, and this past week I took my daughter.  22 years later I still enjoy listening to the sounds but especially his ability to push the music.  George Winston uses such force in emphasizing certain notes - like hidden messages speaking to you.  So I have been thinking a lot about pushing.
This morning I had to push myself out of bed to run.  It takes more pushing some mornings than others and today the bed felt so warm.  But I pushed.
On my way to work, I drove through farmland, listening to the music of George Winston, and saw all around me the bulbs and plants pushing themselves up out of the ground.  The farms of New Jersey are pushing toward summer. 
I saw a woman pushing a fertilizer bucket across her brown, patchy lawn and although my first reaction was, "Good luck with that!" my second reaction was "Good luck with that!"  At some point in the early morning hours she had decided that this would be the year that she would tackle that unruly lawn and push something new to grow.
Recent studies from UPenn have shown that to truly succeed in life you have to have Grit.  No matter your socioeconomic background or schooling or upbringing or geneology, if you will make it through college, not just to college, you need Grit, the ability to face obstacles and overcome them, often defying expectation and experience. (Isn't it funny that when I googled "grit" up comes a magazine of "Rural American Know-How" all about gardening, as in dirt!) Angela Duckworth from UPenn defines grit as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals."  I'd like to add that the active partner of grit is push.  If grit is the noun, push is the verb. 
Pushing is hard, just like real labor.  It takes some knowledge, yes. You have to know where to push to make it work.   It takes some courage, yes, to face criticism and push-back and often pain.  And it takes hope.  That woman out sprinking seed and fertilizer on her lawn has real hope.
Today I pushed and I'm not sure that it worked.  I'm not sure that my legs are getting any faster.  I'm not sure that the teacher I pushed or the student I pushed are ready to go the distance.  I do have hope though, just like those bulbs pushing the ground above them.  I keep pushing, and like George Winston's music, I hope somebody will hear it, a message of courage and hope.  Tomorrow I will continue to push.

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