By Celia Coates
Both Elmer Green, a pioneer in clinical biofeedback, and Al Sharpton, “The Rev,” have given the same wonderful advice: “Just keep going.”
Elmer gave me that advice years ago when I was puzzled about where I was going with studying subtle energies. He was helpful to many, many people – at first with the biofeedback that could tame migraine headaches and lower high blood pressure, and then, after he retired, he spent the last decades of his life teaching about the other dimensions of reality. I was one of the crowd of people who were able to talk to him from time to time. Although there was nothing specific in his suggestion, it was freeing to think that simply continuing was my task.
There are truly troubled times – for each of us and for groups, societies, and nations – times that call for courage and patience. Then, tojust keep goingis crucial. The first lines of a poem by Theodore Roethke describe times like those:
Journey to the Interior
“In the long journey out of the self,
There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places
Where the shale slides dangerously
And the back wheels hang almost over the edge
At the sudden veering, the moment of turning.”
We are drawn to what’s easy and comfortable in life, and we’ve become used to making things happen with one click. Al Sharpton, a Baptist minister and social justice activist, has kept going for decades – speaking up, being scorned, and sometimes jailed for his protests.
In an interview KK Ottesen asked him – “What advice do you give others?”
The Rev’s answer was:
“You’ve got to make a decision of what you’re committed to and the tactics that you really believe will get you there. And know that there’s going to be an upside and a downside. But you just keep going.”
He’d said earlier,
“So when people say, “Oh, Sharpton just wants publicity” – exactly. Nobody calls me to keep their issue silent.” *
Roethke wrote of “the moment of turning” and for him it was sometimes the dreadful turning that began an episode of mental illness. The continuing lines of his poem do not become sunny. But he endured, he did keep going, and he became a prize-winning poet who taught other poets. He, and those who learned from him, have left us some glorious poetry.
History has shown us again and again that long-term action makes a difference. There is real power in choosing our goals and persevering, in not giving up even when we feel lost or hopeless: JUST KEEP GOING.
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* The interview by KK Ottesen was published in the October 14th Washington Post Magazine.