Persistence

At this time of year, thoughts turn to resolutions. My response? To consider persistence hunting.

Persistence hunting is a theory that explains the technique of using running, walking and tracking to pursue prey. This earliest form of hunting goes hand in hand with our evolution from tree climbers to endurance runners. Running down our prey, until the antelope or some other fleet quadruped dropped from exhaustion, is how we managed to feed our developing big brains with the necessary proteins.  Of all the animals, man is best equipped for persistence hunting. Apparently, our bodies are made for it.

Interesting thoughts, no? But, you say as you read this, why should that matter to us? Aren’t we more developed, more advanced, more sophisticated than primitive man? Short answer? No. Not really. Our brains have certainly advanced, and in so doing we have the wonderful tools, gadgets and some might say toys we have invented. We can’t deny however, that the human body hasn’t changed all that much. And why should it? Didn’t it, along with our beautiful brain, raise us to be the dominant species of the planet? Hasn’t it done for us? Shouldn’t we do for it?

And while one may feel that there is a considerable amount of ‘persistence hunting’ in our daily lives, whether that be for missing socks, misplaced tools or the occasional lost thought, it is not the same. We spend an inordinate amount of time on our collective backsides. This, we are not made for. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to look very hard to find statistics on this. Better still, remember how you stiffened up after that long car trip or the soreness at the base of the spine after too much binge watching? Even as I type this, I am suddenly and disturbingly becoming aware of the poor posture, that I am no doubt going to pay for later today. Yep. I can certainly speak for myself. I can spend a lot of time in front of various screens. My mind may be racing a mile a minute, but my body… not so much.

Once more we turn to face a new year, keen on getting healthy, exercising and eating better. Perhaps what we should really be thinking about is how we can improve our mindset. Remembering that we are the culmination of a complicated evolution of the human species due in part to persistence hunting, might help. And persistence might be the key element.

That persistent nature, that dogged resolve, plus our unique biology, had us chasing our prey across the plains.  Perhaps that effort, not just the added protein in our diet, was the opportunity for growth and improvement that our species needed. So looking forward, perhaps the resolution should be to be more persistent. The hunters didn’t give up the hunt after the first fifteen minutes or fifteen miles. They didn’t say well we haven’t caught anything, so we may as well give up. Had they done that, you could imagine where the human race would have been.  Still at the starting line.

So when you fall short of your resolution, as we so inevitably do, remember it is about persistence. Be in it for the long haul. Don’t give up after setbacks; see them as opportunities to exercise persistence. And until we evolve past the need for bodies and can safely store our brains in jars and speak telepathically, or upload our consciousness to live virtually, riding neon cycles through the ether, we may want to get up off of that chair every now and then. It could be the first step, literally and figuratively toward better health.

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