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A Level Up in Perseverance} ?> Perseverance is difficult enough when it’s short term. Running a five-kilometer race, surviving an illness, applying for jobs until you finally get hired… these things take determination. But what about persevering over days, months, and years? Kirito, Asuna, and the other survivors of Sword Art Online know exactly what this feels like, having to persevere when they were trapped inside a virtual reality game for almost three years.
Imprisoned by the creator of the VRMMORPG, many of the other players who logging in that fateful day couldn’t handle life away from their families, their friends, and the outside world. They had no hope the game’s 100 levels would be cleared and they would be able to return. Thousands jumped off virtual cliffs in despair, killing their bodies in the real world. Many more accepted that they would never leave the game and it became their new reality. Others let their entrapment taint their hearts and turned to destroying others to fill the void.
But not Kirito.
Kirito was determined to return home. Though he began this herculean journey in pursuit of beating a game worthy of his skill, he grew to know other players who were determined to help each other escape the game, and he joined them in their goal. Kirito persevered through impossible battles, through losing his friends, through times of discouragement, through betrayal by his guild members, and even through near death. At one point he even considered just settling down in the game and living a life with Asuna, accepting that he’d never leave, but they both knew they had to go on.
The task was daunting. Clearing 30 of the 100 levels took SAO players a year.
A rough period in our lives can take months or more to get past, whether its a financial crisis, an illness, a trying school period, family drama, or other circumstances. Events such as my parents’ divorce, moving from my childhood city, getting a new vehicle after a traumatic accident, and even pursuing publication took a long time to resolve. My ongoing goal to be a published novelist is still going after six years of perseverance. I know firsthand that this action is hard and scary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been discouraged or overwhelmed, and having to force myself to pick myself back up from falling in the mud.
“Lately, there are days I can’t even remember the other world. And it isn’t just me. Recently, fewer and fewer people have been giving their all to clear the game.” —Kirito
Hard times may seem like they never will have an end. We often can’t even see that last level before we clear the game. Persevering is about keeping going no matter what bosses and monsters we have to fight or mountains we have to climb during our journey through the ultimate game of life.
How do we do that when it’s impossible? We don’t do it alone. Like Kirito, we can have other players in our guild. Kirito spends the first few episodes on his own, jumping from adventure to adventure, meeting others but never sticking around until he finally realized that he needed those other people. Kirito had Asuna, Lisbeth, Yui, and Klein to encourage him when he started to fall.
Asuna: “There is one thing I’ve learned here. To keep doing your best up until the very end.”
Klein:“Just consider hardships as another part of training and keep working hard.”
I love Klein’s words here. Our obstacles are training to make us more powerful for what is to come in life. A tough time we persevere through will level us up for trials to come.
I am not alone in my troubles and conquering my demons is not an impossible task. Kirito and Asuna did it, many people around me have done it, and I can persevere too. I take comfort in knowing that even if the end isn’t in sight, there is an end. I can conquer the bosses. I can beat all of the levels. Maybe not by myself, but I can clear the game.