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The Quitter

If You’re Feeling Down, Read This.. (The Quitter)

I was captivated by one particular line of poetry as I was watching the story of Douglas Mawson, one of the greatest survival stories you’ve probably never heard. Mawson was a geologist & explorer during Antarctica’s golden age of exploration, sitting alongside names such as Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton.

 

The Quitter

 

During Mawson’s heroic ordeal, he had fallen into a crevasse, dangling at the end of his sled rope. He had no strength, he was thoroughly exhausted. There didn’t appear to be a way out. Just as he was giving up hope, one particular verse popped into his head..

Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
    It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.

 

It was a verse from the poem The Quitter, an epic call for survival written by Robert Service. Mawson followed this mantra, pulled himself out of the crevasse and made it back to camp, nearly a month later. It would go down as one of the great survival tales and secure Mawson’s knighthood and even brief inclusion on the Australian $100 note.

I found it to be a truly captivating and poignant line, encapsulating no doubt, what willed Mawson to keep on moving, to survive and to live.

The fact is, life has the tendency to drag us down sometimes. We get stuck in a metaphorical crevasse and can’t see how we can ever pull ourselves out.  Just remember, life is supposed to be hard. How could we know true joy without the sorrow… How could we appreciate comfort without hardship… Embrace the challenge. The important thing is to keep going, keep moving forward and you will eventually get to where you want to be.

Here is the full poem by Robert Service, culminating in that epic verse..

 

The Quitter

Robert William Service [1874-1959]

 

When you’re lost in the Wild, and you’re scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: “Fight all you can,”
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.

“You’re sick of the game!” Well, now, that’s a shame.
You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.
“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know — but don’t squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it’s so easy to quit:
It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that’s hard.

It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten — and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —
Why, that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.

 

 

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