Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of Date, 2002
Never give up on life's struggle
The heart breaks, the pain suffocates, still, stay the course
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Here's a want ad I can't imagine placing, let alone answering:
Men wanted for hazardous journey - small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
Yet 5,000 applicants responded. Twenty-seven were chosen.
The year was 1914, and Ernest Shackleton was about to lead an expedition with the aim of crossing 2,000 miles of Antarctica on foot.
You've probably heard about Shackleton. Lately, several books, a museum photo exhibit and a TV movie have given a great deal of attention to the explorer who never reached his goal, but who, nonetheless, managed to triumph by surviving a terrifying two-year ordeal.
I am among the many intrigued by this story. Here's the gist of it: The expedition left England in August, but by January, 1915, their ship Endurance was trapped by pack ice and finally crushed 10 months later.
The party walked almost 200 miles across the ice to the safety of an island. From there, the nearest help was more than 800 miles away at a whaling station on South Georgia Island - and the only way to cross the wild, icy South Atlantic was in a lifeboat.
Shackleton and five companions succeeded, and then had to trek from one side of the craggy, snow-covered island to the other.
In May, 1916, with the help of the whalers, Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed back to the island to rescue those left behind.
Twenty-eight men set sail on the adventure. All 28 returned.
It's easy to see the appeal of this slice of history. The fact that every member of the expedition survived the grueling physical and mental nightmare is astonishing and, yes, inspirational.
While it's true the crew volunteered for the venture, the pure determination to go on in spite of overwhelming odds captures both attention and admiration.
Sometimes, just getting through the day is a daunting task. Maybe you or someone you love has a serious health problem or you might be grieving the loss of someone dear to you.
You might be going through serious work-related, financial or legal troubles.
So you may feel as though you really are trying to steer an open boat tossed by frigid winds and waves.
You know where you want to go, but fear that your greatest efforts won't be enough to get you there.
Or you could feel so alone, even when in the company of others, you might as well be abandoned at the ends of the earth.
However insurmountable the challenges, you face seem to be, there is always reason to hope.
You may not succeed in all you do, but giving up on yourself insures failure.
There's a saying that's popular in our Christopher Leadership Course that can give you a boost of encouragement:
"I am only one, but I am one.
"I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
"What I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do."
Or, as those who sailed on the Endurance believed - Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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