When a child is born, he or she comes equipped with certain basic drives that psychologists have been listing for us for many years. And to my mind, one of the most interesting of these basic drives is the one we might call the drive to go on—the virtually indestructible tendency on the part of a human being to keep going, to wait for one more sunrise, to try just one more time and then once more again and again.
No matter how crushed, how defeated, how demoralized, when all hope seems gone, there is, in the healthy person, a small, inextinguishable flame of hope—like a faint but persistent pilot light—that stays alight, much like the fire ancient man used to carry with him as he moved from place to place.
It’s been seen in the faces of men, women and children escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, and refugees from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Afghanistan. It was still smoldering in the shrunken faces of the victims of Hitler’s death camps when they were liberated by the Allied soldiers at the close of World War II. It’s what causes a person to keep putting one foot in front of the other on what seems like an endless road with no destination in sight. And it’s this natural drive to go on, to keep trying, that’s responsible for man’s progress through the long centuries.
Almost everyone comes to a place in life when going on seems futile, even ridiculous—when he seems overwhelmed by a suffocating mattress of events and situations, and desires just to sit down in the middle of the road and let the world and everything in it go to blazes.
So he sits down for a while. But then the vibration of the world seems to make itself felt in his bones. Pretty soon, he raises his head and begins to look around. After a while, he takes a couple of deep breaths, gets slowly, painfully, to his feet, wobbles there for a minute or two, and then he starts out again. Often as not, around the next bend in the road, he’ll find the reason he kept going. And he’ll shudder at the thought of how close he came to giving up.
His hope lies in movement and time. If he doesn’t get up and start moving again, he’s done for. But he has this natural drive to keep moving along the road. As long as he keeps heading for what he’s looking for, what seemed like the end of the world for him will be nothing more than a bad dream, and a part of the preparation he needed to qualify for the achievement his perseverance has brought.
Movement, time and the law of averages. I remember reading about the manager of a major-league ball club who kept a rookie on the team and in the lineup because even though he wasn’t hitting anywhere near what was expected of him, when he struck out, he struck out swinging. He wasn’t just standing there watching strikes go by. And, as the manager expected, he soon started getting wood on the ball and bringing his average up to where it belonged.
Discouragement seems to be a part of life, but the reason people prevail is because of this built-in drive to keep going.