In Boston’s Copley Square, a bronze public art installation recently caught my eye. It was the bronze “Tortoise and Hare” created by artist Nancy Schon (she also is the artist behind the “Make Way for Ducklings” installation in the Boston Public Garden), themed after Aesop’s fable and dedicated to Boston Marathon runners. Installed on May 19, 1993, it’s been there for more than two decades.
Sponsored by Friends of Copley Square, the installation is a permanent tribute to the runners from around the world who’ve run the marathon. It’s an ode to hard work, to pushing through difficulties and to not taking things for granted. It’s for runners like Michael Westphal, 58-year-old carpenter from Great Cranberry Island with Parkinson’s disease, who finished the marathon on Monday in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 59 seconds.
On her website, Schon writes, “Some of the marathon runners I know run just to finish, they don’t expect to win, they are challenged and want to have that wonderful sense of accomplishment. Persistence pays off. Slow and steady wins the race.”
Westphal told BDN reporter Ernie Clark that he took medication for Parkinson’s during the race but didn’t notice any symptoms of the disease until the final three or four miles of the race.
“I began to feel a little weak then, but I don’t know if that was the heat or the medication,” Westphal told Clark. “A lot of people didn’t finish, and I ended up walking a few times because I felt like I was falling forward. As I would attempt to regain my composure, I would walk for 20 seconds at a time up some of the hills, and that helped.”
That sounds like exactly the kind of perseverance Schon had in mind.
Perseverance isn’t just for marathons though. It’s a key ingredient to a successful life. It’s what sets apart top inventors like Thomas Edison from those who let failure become a roadblock. It’s a trait shared by J.K. Rowling, whose book proposal for the first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 major publishers before being accepted by a small publisher. Likewise, Stephen King’s first book, “Carrie,” was repeatedly rejected before an editor scooped it up. And it fueled Steve Jobs, who was famously fired from Apple, the company he cofounded and later returned to.
Perseverance is an admirable trait, and one I’ve tried to instill in my kids. When we study for their spelling tests, and they get a word wrong, I encourage them to shake it off and not let that one fail impact their ability to rock the rest of their studying. One failure — or a dozen failures — isn’t reason to stop. It’s reason to keep going, try harder and prove all your critics wrong.
And it applies in so many aspects of life — from your life goals to your career to this dumpling recipe.
Because honestly, making dumplings requires a certain degree of perseverance. Once you learn to do it, it becomes easier.
But the learning part is challenging. It forces you to move slowly and deliberately, to slow down and focus.
Press. Pleat, pleat, pleat. Pleat, pleat, pleat. Press.
It’s predictable, and takes a careful touch, as long as you’re willing to keep trying. With practice, you can move faster but even then, it’s relative.
Much like the tale of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” you need to afford the process time and dedication to be completed well. And yet, even though it takes awhile and demands so much of your attention, when it’s over, it doesn’t feel like it took that long. Moreover, the sense of accomplishment is worth all the effort.
And whatever you do … just don’t give up.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ package round wonton wrappers (about 27-30)
- ½ lb loose sweet italian sausage, browned
- ⅓ cup pizza sauce
- ⅓ cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush a large baking sheet with oil (use less than half of it!).
- Top each wonton wrapper with a little Italian sausage, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Hint: don't fill the wonton wrapper more than ¼ full.
- Fold the wonton wrapper into a half-moon, and press firmly to seal. Then, working your way down one side of the wonton, gently fold one layer of the wrapper, forming a pleat. Press firmly to seal. Continue, creating pleats first down one side of the half moon and then the other, until sealed. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and continue until all the wontons have been filled.
- Brush the wontons with the remaining oil.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes, then flip the dumplings and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. The wonton will be golden brown when done.