Someone up there really does not like me. I mean, I am a pretty harmless sort of chap and I really cannot understand why someone should concentrate on messing me up at every turn. It is sort of gratifying that I am considered worthy of specific attention but, every now and then by way of varying the monotony, I can only wish that things could go right for me.
You see, back at school, they told me this story of Robert Bruce whose school-teacher was a spider (and, mind you, that was not even a fantasy tale) which taught him that 'If at first you do not succeed, try, try, try again' or some such thing. And my school teacher, who was not a spider (more is the pity, since lessons would have been more interesting that way and, if they got too boring, you could sort of squash the teacher), called this thing persistence.
It sort of seemed like persistence was a thing that you ought to acquire. I tried. I really did. The problem, though, was that when it came to me, they invented a new word for it - they called it stubbornness and, apparently, it was absolutely uncool to be stubborn.
That, in a nutshell, has been the story of my life. When it came to the other guy keeping on at something, he was called persistent and everyone patted him on the head and held him up as an example of what you ought to be. When I kept at something, I was called stubborn and everyone glared at me and held me up as an example of what you ought not to be. If this is not conclusive proof of malice from above, I would like to know what is. Seemed to me that if you kept pegging at a thing and succeeded in the end, you were called persistent. If, like me, all your repeated efforts only ended in failure, you were called stubborn.
Of course, there were always my friends who did not agree with my diagnoses. (That is another of my grouses. Am I the only person in the world, whose friends treat him as though he was brought up by parents, whose idea of parenting a newborn babe was to bounce him on his head sixty times a minute?) On one of my persistent attempts at solving a problem, all the sympathy he offered was, "If you keep assuming that two and two add up to five every time, I can hardly laud you for your persistence." (I am NOT stubborn. I offer up as proof the fact that, on my next attempt, I assumed it was six and NOT five, and still could not solve the problem. So there).
This chap sort of gave me the impression that sticking to a goal may be persistence BUT to stick to the way you went about chasing your goal without learning from your mistakes was to be stubborn. Of course he would say such things - he was lauded for HIS persistence merely because he eventually succeeded, so he was unlikely to accept that it was only injustice that did not land me on the same pedestal.
Anyway, I have found that, whenever I chased what I thought other people would prefer me to have, and was persistent at it, it was ALWAYS stubbornness. The malice that dogs me seems to have started with producing me with a kink in the brain that refuses to understand exactly what others would want of me. SO, I ended up chasing things with little success and got labelled stubborn for my efforts.
Then there are the things that I wanted. It is not that chasing them made others call me anything other than stubborn - but I found that I just did not care what I got called. When has a person with a sweet tooth ever bothered about what people said while bowling over others in his effort to snag the last piece of sweet on a buffet table? Even if he did fail, he would only regret the failure but not the effort. Something like that.
So, after this long, my philosophy has changed to "If at first you do not succeed, just give up" for all the things about which I even felt the need to think about whether I should persist or not. When it came to the things I REALLY wanted, the thought of giving up never crosses my mind.
After all, it is sort of idiotic to learn your lessons from spiders - blindly!