Persevere Through the Januarys of Life

piano keysMy son reached The Wall in piano. He’s been playing five years and sees his growth waning. He wants to stop. His father tells him, “Push past the wall, and in a couple of years you’ll be able to teach yourself to play most anything you want.”

His older sister climbed over it ahead of him, so he knows it can happen. His younger sister plays a level right behind him, which should certainly motivate him.  Right now, though, he’s stagnating.

He may believe he doesn’t have the talent to get there. He may think the end result is not worth it anymore. He may want to give it up all together. Whatever his reasoning, he most likely believes his struggle toward the finish line is unique.

Stagnation—lacking vitality, showing little sign of activity or advancement—feels as foul as that definition and as gloomy as an overcast January day. We may lack the energy or motivation to go on. And that only contributes to feeling left out or left behind. So, yes, like my son, we feel alone in our ability to succeed.

A bleak look at our rooftop in January

Whether we are learning piano, losing weight, beginning a business, training a toddler, teaching a class of students, or just trying to get through January without being depressed, we will most likely reach a point of slowdown in our goals.

As I persevere through the 37th January of my life, the cold, dark and long days seem inevitable—even typical—of what we can all expect on whatever stretch of track we’re currently pressing.  Then, what do we do?

Our 2000-piece puzzle of Starry Night by Van GoghPush past it. Keep going forward.

That sounds simple when we tell our son, but it feels harder when we’re climbing over the wall at middle age.  Still, even when the anticipation of our objective dims or an obstacle rises in our path, we can persist.

More importantly, just because obstacles, difficulties or discouragement come, our goal or purpose still remains; we just need to remain constant to it. And there’s nothing like sitting down to solve a 2000-piece puzzle on a January evening beside a child practicing the piano to remind me of that.

Like my entry in Scribbit’s January Write-Away Contest? Read all the winners and the entries here on Friday.


  1. Michelle at Scribbit
    Jan 21, 2009

    I so need to hear this-for some reason this year seems to stretch out as a flock of Januarys in front of me.

  2. Julie Wright
    Jan 21, 2009

    May is my month that is sooo hard for me to get through. Love this post. I hope he gets over his wall on piano. It takes a lot, but will be so worth it.

  3. An Ordinary Mom
    Jan 21, 2009

    If I can get through this January, then I think I will have climbed over one of my own walls 🙂 !!

  4. Minna Dyer
    Jan 22, 2009

    Ooo! Maybe that’s what I need- a ridiculously large puzzle to work on while I wait out winter and my pregnancy 🙂
    Actually, I have filled my days with projects and that seems to be helping. If only I could manage to kept traveling. That always seems to pass the time.

  5. Rebecca
    Jan 23, 2009

    Your example of training a toddler made me laugh out loud. That’s my current struggle, but I have not likened it to other struggles I have overcome. I conquered “the wall” in piano, so I know I can conquer this wall as well! Thanks for the comparison and the great reminder.

    By the way, my mom used to always tell us that one day we would be serving a mission somewhere where they didn’t have a pianist, and we would be so grateful we could use our talent at that time. Ironically, I am the only one out of 6 kids who kept with the piano, and I am the only one who did not serve a mission. Each one of my 5 brothers came home from their missions saying they wished they had stuck with the piano because there was a need for it on each of their missions! Maybe you could use that to motivate your son?? He will never be sorry he stuck with it, but he will almost definitely be sorry if he gives it up. Just tell him to talk to any adult who quit! =)

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