Grit is the quality of exhibiting an indomitable spirit. No matter the circumstances, a person of grit is never overcome, subdued or vanquished. She may be defeated in a contest but is never defeated in spirit; he may fail at a task but he does not accept failure as the final outcome. It is the quality of perpetual assertiveness.
- Ken Wilber, Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing In the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber (Shambhala, 1991).
- Mitchell Zuckoff, Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II (Harper, 2011): three survivors of a military plane crash in 1945 survive against extraordinary circumstances.
- Travis Mills, Tough As They Come (Center Point Publishing, 2016): this is a true story about a quadriple amputee.
Documentary and Educational Films
- I Am Alive: Surviving the Andes Plane Crash: a documentary account of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes in which sixteen surviving members of a rugby team struggle to survive
- Stranded is another documentary film about the same subject
Lee Krasner, Volcanic (1951)
Film and Stage
- Places in the Heart: a young widow keeps her farm after her husband’s death during the Great Depression with persistence and hard work
- Alive, a dramatization of a true story about people who survive a plane crash in the Andes by extraordinary means, including cannibalism
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Ludwig van Beethoven was in ill health, and feeling poorly most of the time, when Prince Nikolas Galitzin commissioned him to compose three new string quartets. One of these is his String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132 (1825) (approx. 45-50 minutes). As in his Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, the music progresses from dark to light, reflecting the composer’s personal struggles. “In 1825, two years before he died, the ailing composer suffered from a dreadful bowel inflammation. Throughout spring and summer, he endured the ghastly Brunonian system of medicine that wound up killing more people than the Napoleonic wars. Once recovered, he wrote a string quartet in which he represented the psychology of pain and illness in all its transcendent transparency.” “The subject matter of this quartet is pain and its transcendence . . . Music here appears to be an implicit agency of healing, a talisman against death.” The work has been called a “string quartet of transcendence”. Beethoven had already been coping with progressive deafness, a severe liability for a musician. His ability to compose exquisite music under these circumstances reminds us of our capacity to push through our difficulties, persevere and contribute to and in the world. Top recorded performances are by Busch Quartet in 1937, Budapest String Quartet in 1964, Quartetto Italiano in 1968, Takács Quartet in 2003, Belcea Quartet in 2013, Quartetto di Cremona in 2018, Brodsky Quartet in 2019, Tetzlaff Quartet in 2020, Ehnes Quartet in 2022, and Dover Quartet in 2022.
Wardruna is a “Norwegian music constellation dedicated to creating musical renditions of ancient Norse and Nordic traditions”. Its steady underpinning is a bass/baritone drum beat, coupled with vocals, mainly from baritone Einar Selvik, which evoke what life might have been like in the cold European North centuries ago. Even on their album “Skald”, the softer instrumental accompaniments are stark in tone. “Wardruna is closer to what Dead Can Dance could have been if they had left Australia and moved to the frozen Norwegian fjords.” Waldruna’s music expresses the difference between determination and grit: they take us through hard times and stark landscapes in a cold place. Their albums include:
- “Kvitravn” (Flight of the White Raven) (2021): “. . . the Norwegians’ darkly expansive folk brings the natural world and Nordic myth and history to vivid life using an impressive range of ancient instruments, from lyres to goat horns.”
- “Skald” (2018): “Skald was a term used for a poet who recited at the courts of Scandinavia and Iceland during the viking ages, and this album is true, honourable poetry.”
- “Runaljod Ragnarok” (Sound of Runes – Destruction of the Gods) (2016): “. . . the band have reached deep into both the heart of Nordic esoteric tradition and the consciousness of devoted followers worldwide, the organic and profoundly expressive nature of their music tapping into a resonance that, once experienced, feels like a rediscovery of something long dormant and universal – a reconnection with one’s roots no matter what part of the planet you call home . . .”
- “Runaljod - Yggdrasil” (Sound of Runes – Odin’s Horse) (2013): “Yggdrasil is the second in a projected trilogy of albums based around the runes of the Elder Futhark, the earliest alphabet used by Germanic tribes in the centuries before the Viking Age. The album is named, appropriately enough, for the immense tree linking the nine worlds of Norse mythology, on which Odin purportedly hung himself for nine days and in so doing acquired divine knowledge of the runes and their symbolism.”
- “Runaljod – gap var Ginnunga” (Sound of Runes – The Gap Was Vast) (2009)
- Keisha Bush, No Heaven for Good Boys: A Novel (Raondom House, 2021): “In Dakar, where the novel is set, Ibrahimah and Étienne are dispatched by their marabout to beg for money, food, rice or sugar. If they don’t make their increasingly higher quotas, they are beaten and abused.”
- Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel (Viking, 2021): “In the universe of this novel, grit and integrity and determination matter, not because they get you where you want to go but because they allow you to persist when you’re inevitably blown off course by chance, vicissitude and the disruptive schemes of fellow questers.”