This I Believe


by Chuck Ivy - Part 4

I believe there’s a pony in there somewhere.

You may have heard the story about the young boy who got up one Christmas morning and raced downstairs to see what Santa had left. What he found was an enormous pile of horse manure near the Christmas tree. He squealed with joy, dropped to his knees, and started digging with both hands as fast as he could. The noise woke his parents, who hurried downstairs to watch their son enjoy Christmas morning. When they realized that the boy was digging in a huge pile of horse manure, the father told him to stop. But the boy kept digging saying, “but, Dad, there’s a pony in there somewhere.”

This story has stuck with me since I first heard it years ago, because I identify with the little boy. The story exalts persistence and optimism, and what one might call a never-give-up approach.  Ellen often – and, I hope, jokingly – reminds me of this story when I refuse to give up on something that she knows just ain’t gonna happen. Sometimes, she is right. But sometimes I get a break and find the pony or something enough like the pony to reinforce my tendency to be persistent.

That is the key. One need not actually find the pony for this approach to pay off. Persistence and optimism may lead to finding the pony, or finding the saddle the pony was wearing, or the puppy that was chasing the pony. Or the beautiful princess that was riding the pony. The point being, one will not always find the pony, but most of the time, one will find something good by continuing to dig.

Now, I know that we all give up sometimes and that sometimes giving up is the only rational thing to do. Sometimes it would be just plain dumb to keep going. But I believe that persistence more often than not gets the job done or, at least, leads us to another and better way to accomplish what we want.

I believed for years that Winston Churchill once gave a graduation address which said, in its totality, “Never give up. Never give up,” and then sat down. I now know that the story was false. Winston Churchill did repeat the words “never give in” in a somewhat longer graduation speech. I interpret that speech to be his endorsement of persistence and I enjoy being in his company.

Yes, I believe in optimism, persistence, perseverance, doggedness, and tenacity, and a can-do attitude. Never mind that we occasionally give up when demanded by all logic and reason. But if we keep trying, usually we will find a pony or at least something good in there somewhere.

This I believe.