I said my focus for the year would be on endurance. While it’s a theme that has been moving to the center of my consciousness for a long time, I credit Jennifer Pharr Davis for pointing my gaze to Endurance specifically.
I just finished her book The Pursuit of Endurance. It’s great. It has tons of wisdom on what it means to endure. But it is SO MUCH MORE.
I read a lot. The authors that reel me in most are those who show a deep contemplation of how to live a meaningful life. Pharr Davis is clearly that kind of writer, that kind of thinker.
But lots of writers do that…
So yes, she has compiled some wonderful stories about endurance. But these aren’t stories about enduring passively the shit life deals us. Her stories are about finding, indeed choosing, the tough paths we find meaningful, choosing the paths that are true to ourselves on a deep level. Then they’re about enduring the struggles that come with choosing our own path.
If you know me or follow me, you know I’ve come to love hiking. Unlike Pharr Davis, my love is for some pretty tame day hiking. I share none of the ambition for overcoming significant feats or the time at which they are completed. Yet.
But she said something I felt to be viscerally true, which I had learned as I grew to love hiking:
“There is something very powerful and very healing about physical forward motion.”
When in doubt, when in struggle, it is empowering to stand and put one foot in front of the other. Because that is often all we can do, and that physical act reminds our physiology that we can.
So the other thing she said that profoundly resonated with me is: “Hiking is not escapism. Hiking is realism.”
I’m a big fan of realism, of truth seeking. Hiking is a great metaphor for life’s struggles, so I believe her.
Her books, her story, are about finding ourselves. They are about an intentional exploration into our deepest selves. About asking ourselves the most pertinent questions we long to answer. Her writing is about the journey of finding our exquisitely unique parts. And about how part of the answers are found reflected in the complexity of others’ responses to us, as they are on their own journeys
What Pharr Davis does that sets her writing apart is celebrate individuality alongside love of community and a shared greater good. She values understanding and tolerance and finding common ground, and consciously doing so where those things are hardest to find. She doesn’t call it this but I do…
She espouses love.
I recommend her writing highly, and this book in particular.
(Every year I post the books I’ve read that year. I thought I’d start saying something about the ones I really love. I’m not a reviewer, but I’ll always share about books I love.)