I often think about persistence hunting, even though I know very little about how it actually works. I think about chasing after a large animal and through sheer perseverance over a long period of time and distance, exhaust the animal and overwhelm it, capturing it for sustenance and resources. I understand it in concept, but not in practice. I have yet to persist in anything that doesn’t allow for a significant amount of coasting off of an initial effort. You see, I’m very good at initial effort, at starting things that have no hope of continuing after the moment passes.
I have over a dozen domains purchased for projects that never materialized. Not because the ideas themselves lacked viability (well, maybe phonephriend.com), but rather that they required significant persistence that never materialized. Obviously, this is not a new story. People have started and quit things with regularity for generations. History is filled with small businesses that didn’t pan out and household projects that amounted to nothing. And yet, it is the relative success that I experienced so early in my career that made me believe that my personal history would be different.
I thought that the “Totally Wired Teacher of 2007” represented the first step in a Totally Wired path that I would be able to identify and pursue. It was to be the first large animal that I stalked and brought down. And yet, the other animals did not keep coming, or perhaps I just stopped looking for them. I thought that the feast that I experienced from 2007-2010 would feed me for the rest of my life. But, it hasn’t.
2010 was 12 years ago, and while I don’t think I fully stopped pursuing the large animals that I still see in my dreams until late 2016, I could feel myself slowing down. I could feel the persistence giving way to apathy, a feeling that I hate more than any other.
And once I stopped looking for and chasing down the big projects that produce “big wins,” it became a mystery as to how I ever did it in the first place. It sounds like so much work to wake up even earlier and work on a new project or to eliminate the distractions that are ever present. You cannot both continue running down an antelope and sit on the couch watching YouTube. You also cannot persist on behalf of someone else. You have to be able to feel your own strength as you track and run and make and pursue.
And wandering around aimlessly, hoping that a large animal will just cross your path is not a viable option. You are likely to never see one.
And yet, I can’t help but think that there is at least one more caribou or buffalo out there for me. I will just have to leave the warmth of the fire for long enough to catch its scent. I cannot build the future I want if I am unwilling to craft new tools, ones that are better equipped to capture this generation of indifferent beast. So, craft them I will.
Waking before the sun, I will start to venture further out. I will find my next animal to track, and tackle to the ground. I will continue, even when I cannot find the right one. I will not stop when the trail is lost. Because it is isn’t really lost; the trail is always there. It is I who have become lost. And it is in the search, the passionate and relentless pursuit that I will become found.
Once again, I persist.