The only way out is through: Where it’s from and when it’s smart

This seems to be my theme this week – how to keep going when I want to stop. This also seems to be a good place to caveat the fact that sometimes, it’s the responsible and healthy thing to let go of something, to not push push push. That’s a call one can only make for her or himself, and my posts are not saying that you should always push through everything. For me, I have found that in the practices I love and want to continue, I tend to burn out on – to start hard and fast and not build up the practice and realize its place in my life. (Tomorrow, there will be a specific post about why this has become a resounding thought. And it relates to writing. Promise!)

Earlier this week, M. Fenn and I were discussing the phrase “The only way out is though” – and wondering where it came from. After a bit of Googling, I found that the earliest attribution of it comes from the poem A Servant to Servants by Robert Frost (1914).

“Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through.”

On the other hand, this is where I think I most recognize the statement.

I think I’ve also heard it in the context of a recovery slogan or in counseling work. That the only way out of difficult emotions or circumstances is to work through them, that there aren’t short cuts on those roads. And, perhaps I’ve worked under the assumption, for a long time that if I hit it hard and fast (“it” being whatever I’m working on), that the intensity will get me through more quickly.

The Tortoise and the Hare - Project Gutenberg ...Anyone reminded of the fable of the tortoise and the hare? Where the hare shot off during a race with the tortoise and then became confident that there was no way the tortoise could beat him, so he went and took a nap. The slow and steady tortoise ended up finishing before the hare, as he kept up through the nap.

The tortoise didn’t give up; he didn’t know what he was capable of until he tried. He didn’t try to beat the hare at the hare’s own game. Instead, he did what he was capable of doing and kept going.

I need to remember, in so many circumstances, it’s about the long run, not the sprint. That the way through isn’t a short road, but a bigger picture.

Where do you need to slow down? In your life, where would the tortoise be a better role model, rather than the hare?


10 thoughts on “The only way out is through: Where it’s from and when it’s smart

  1. It’s good to push, but only at a moderate level. Our life is completely out of balance when we push ourselves too hard, unfortunately. That’s why the work-hard, play-hard mentality of the world is so prevalent, especially in America, but unfortunately, this isn’t the key to happiness. Rest is a good thing!!

    • Agreed, on all points. I think it’s important to commit to something and work through it, and there may be times that a hard push is necessary, but constantly? It has (and does) make me sick.

      I am learning (and relearning, over and over) the necessity of rest and our body’s and mind’s need for it. But, as someone with extreme workaholic tendencies, it’s hard.

      What is your favourite way to rest? (Or, ways, if more than one.)

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