11 June 2018

The Best Quotes from The Pursuit of Endurance by Jennifer Pharr Davis

Several years ago I read Cheryl Strayed's Wild while visiting family in Western North Carolina. My sister, Beth, an avid backpacker and hiker, told me about a woman who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in under 47 days. "Impossible." I remember saying to her. "It takes months to hike the AT." Beth persisted in telling me about Jennifer Pharr Davis, who had recently won a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award for setting the Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. Following my conversation with Beth, I read numerous hiking narratives because I wanted to understand how it was humanly possible to hike 2, 189 miles in less than two months.

In the dozen or so books I read about hiking, I learned about endurance, persistence, grit and transformation. My interest in these topics goes back to my childhood and a volleyball team my mom wouldn't let me quit (but that's a story for another time). In May as the final weeks of school wrapped up for the year, I read two new books The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience by Jennifer Pharr Davis and North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek. Both were exceptionally written and awe inspiring, but I related more with aspects of Pharr Davis's book because of my connections to Western North Carolina. Not only does my family live there, but I lived there, taught there, hiked there, birthed my children there.


This week, I returned to The Pursuit of Endurance because the well-researched approach and embedded narrative resonated with me. I marked passages and selected quotes for motivation and inspiration. Here I'm sharing some of my favorites because I bet they'll resonate with you, too, especially if you need a little Monday Motivation (or any other day of the week motivation). Hopefully, you'll take away not only a quote for motivation, but a desire to read the full book.

Photo Credit: Ethan Boss 

Quotes for when it feels like you're failing and life all around you is crumbling

"When it feels as if you are constantly losing and everything good is slipping away, it is difficult to muster the strength to keep trying again and again. But endurance is the ability to continue despite past results and with disregard for future outcomes (107)."
"When you have failed over and over again, the decision to keep moving forward is not derived from reason but driven by hope (108)."
"If you never fail then you haven't set your goals high enough (139)." 
"Don't be afraid of failure. Endurance is failure after failure, after failure (295)."

Quotes for learning more about yourself

"The thing about a long, grueling journey is that it strips away who you're not and allows you to discover what's left--or who's left (165)."
"One damn good reason to pursue endurance--and choose suffering--is to get to know yourself inside and out. When you reach that moment where you gave more than you thought you had and accomplished more than you thought you could, it's clear who you are (165)."
"The best way to move forward is not to forsake the past, but to forgive it--and yourself (174)."

Quotes for when you're judging yourself or others

"Go outside, take a walk with someone different from you (295)."
"My rule of thumb is that you never judge someone else's pace or form because you don't know how far they've come and what they're still planning to do (299)."
"The essence of endurance will never be defined by rules and categories; it will be distinguished by the stories of the unique individuals who blaze the trail 293)." 
"The hurt we experience in life might never fully go away; it could ebb and flow for an eternity. You can make progress and appreciate the times when life isn't much of a struggle. And you can pray, and cry, and wrestle through the rest (293)." 
"It behooves us to not come to quick conclusions about other people's paths and instead approach each individual with encouragement and compassion. We might be on different trails, but we are all mid-journey (300)." 

Quotes for when you feel like you can't keep going

"When life feels hopeless, or unfair or completely out of my control, I remember the new opportunities and experiences and encounters that arise when you are willing to take one more step (201)."
"We exist only as long as we persist. And there is confounding hope and limitless possibility in our ability to rise up, change direction, and take one more step (302)."
"It is okay to fall short, it is okay to let people down, it is okay to hurt and suffer, it is okay to stop when you can't go any farther. But don't give up on yourself, your goals, or the people around you (296)."

Quotes for remembering that you have a choice

"Endurance isn't accepting the trail you're on, it's choosing it (245)."
"Our resilience is proved in trying circumstances and exhibited by accepting a challenge. Choosing to tackle difficult situations will help us better navigate the ones that are forced on us (293)."
"Feeling stuck is no excuse for staying where you are. Life is hard; struggle is guaranteed, but you can exercise your right to choose where and how to struggle (299)."

Photo Credit: Ethan Boss

Quotes for remembering that YOU MATTER

"You can't let public opinion determine the worth of your journey (281)." 
"Endurance, even amid a competition, is still an individual journey. Everyone takes part in a unique struggle and at some point, you will need to unlock your own secrets in order to keep going (198)."
"You can't let public opinion determine the worth of your journey (281)."  
"I remind myself that sometimes you are so consumed by the task at hand that you don't realize that you are on your way to accomplishing something amazing (201)."


"The AT emits wisdom.
There is a palpable maturity
that wafts
 through the ancient
 granite and the exposed,
gnarled roots of the spruce trees (132)."

Read my review of Becoming Odyssa for Sip & Slice Blog.