Ten Book Characters You’d Want to Go on a Road Trip with

Volkswagon bus and Schwinn bicycle.When Barnes and Noble shared a post about road trips with favorite book characters, I immediately wondered with whom I’d want to adventure. I then thought about strategy. Some characters, after all, are funny or morbid but relatively useless in the day-in, day-out activities of life. If they were put under the pressure of a road trip — and almost anyone would agree that lengthy trips bring out the best and worst in people — they’d succumb to anger or petulance.

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T is for Termagant

Two badgers fighting in a field of grass.Most people likely think of termagant as an adjective describing a person prone to being overbearing or shrewish. I, however, conjure an animal, two, to be exact: the married badgers, Crab Apple and Fussbudget. The couple makes its appearance in Ken Gire’s Adventures in the Big Thicket, a children’s book similar to Aesop’s Fables.

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Why You Need to Finish Things

A pen and 2018 calendar beside a silver Macbook Pro.Try to finish things. You learn more as an aspiring writer from finishing things.

— Neil Gaiman, Book Reading in Austin, Texas

Neil Gaiman directed his advice on finishing things toward writers, but his words apply to anyone. Artist or scientist, child or adult, everyone learns more from finishing things. For example, the action produces patience and perseverance. It also instills focus.

Finishing Things Teaches Patience

The dictionary defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” The word’s synonyms include “restraint, forbearance, and tolerance.” Some people claim the capacity naturally.

Most people, however, have to work at it. Fortunately, patience can be taught and often arrives through finishing things. The longer a person sticks with a project, the more patience he or she must practice. It is the only way to see a project through to its end when it proves difficult or takes more time than anticipated.

Finishing Things Cultivates Perseverance

Finishing things also produces perseverance, a quality related to patience. Perseverance means “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” It belongs to the realm of “try, try again.”

It also holds sway with people known for stick-to-it-iveness. Not everyone possesses the ability innately, but they can develop and hone it. By choosing a project and finishing it, despite getting bored or discouraged, perseverance appears, benefiting not only the current project but also future ones.

Finishing Things Instills Faithfulness

Patience and perseverance often result in faithfulness. Wikipedia, however fault-ridden, offers an excellent definition for the word: “Faithfulness is the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something, and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances.”

In other words, a faithful person is a committed person. He or she takes on a project, joins a service team, or initiates a friendship determined to give those things one hundred percent. For this person, faithfulness entails quality and whole-bodied dedication, nothing more and nothing less.

Finishing Things Delivers Focus

A person faithful to finishing things sometimes encounters a problem: He or she commits to everything, leaving the individual scattered and weary. As a result, the person typically goes one of two routes.

He or she either quits things or streamlines commitments. The first sometimes leaves a person guilty and in despair. The second can prompt some of those same emotions, but the individual usually comes to a realization that focusing on fewer “things” leads to greater patience, perseverance, and faithfulness.

Finishing Things Balances Failure and Success

Besides teaching a person perseverance, focus, et cetera, finishing things can help a person to view failure and success accurately. Finishing a project doesn’t always lead to acclaim and fame. In other instances, finishing sometimes means missing the mark. The project gets completed, but it isn’t something to brag about.

Both of those outcomes are fine. A person shouldn’t commit to a thing because of a desire for publicly acknowledged success; he or she should commit to the thing because of the thing itself. It is the thing or person that motivates perseverance, patience, and faithfulness. It prompts focus because the thing demands undivided attention.

The thing also supersedes success and failure rates because, at some point, the desire to work on it takes priority over anything else. That is, the person comes to love the process more than the outcome. He or she has to write, draw, experiment, et cetera, no matter what. When they reach that point, they don’t need to worry about aspirations; they are practicing artists, whether the world knows it or not.

Image: Marco Verch (Creative Commons)