Day 2 of the Health Activist Writer's Challenge writing prompt is to take a quotation that inspires you (positively or negatively) and write about it for 15 minutes...presumably focused on something to do with health - though not explicitly stated in the prompt.
Here's my quote again:
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
I've written before about force of will and what a dominant role that it plays in my approach to my health and to life in general. When I think positively about this facet of my personality, it makes me feel very proud and grateful. I've been able to achieve most of my life goals and face many challenging situations, without letting my physical limitations call the shots for me. I don't think I will ever underestimate the strength that comes from an "indomitable will" - not in others or in myself. I know for a fact that your will, your drive, your ability to translate wish or desire into action - these are the things that give you strength.
And I won't (or I think I won't) ever take this for granted in myself. There have been times when my will has faltered, or I've been faced with what seems an impossible dilemna, and I've felt completely adrift and powerless. For me, that is the most terrifying feeling. But this illustrates the double edged sword of a willful spirit. If you have a perfectionist or idealist will - no matter how strong you become and how much adversity you face down, there is a risk you will still feel weak.
Our physical limitations often present these barriers to the perfectly indomitable will. Ithink what I don't like about this powerful quote from Ghandi is the suggestion that physical capacity plays no role. Unfortunately, that isn't true. I've told a few friends over the years that I really feel like my body cannot keep up with my drive, my will. I can't will myself to perfect blood sugars. I can't will my hands to soften and uncurl from Dupuytren's, I can't will my stomach to behave properly. And I can't will away my anxiety that undermines my efforts to take the best care of myself possible. At it's worst, an indomitable will can lead you into a vicious cycle of challenging the nature of my physiology with force.
Relying on your force of will can suck you dry of hope for a change - something I realized recently and blogged about previously. For me anyway, it has been helpful to try and learn some grace. To use what physical capacity I have in concert with my will, rather than pitting my "self" - the strong will self - against my body - the weak thing I'm forced to tote around and occupy. Anyone reading this will see the obvious folly, but I tell you that it is very easy to slip into this compartmentalized view of self. My strong voice will constantly belittle my weak self and the self-loathing directed primarily at my body cycles into an argument in my head about how I wouldn't be physically weak if my will were stronger.
If I take that advice to treat oneself as if you were your best friend, this whole situation brings me to tears. How unfair both sides of my argumentative mind are!
HOPE. GRACE. WILL. STRENGTH.
These are the qualities I try to recognize and express gratitude for in my daily life. It's a practice, like yoga or meditation. I love the term "practice", because of the implication that we have to keep at it - it's not something you finish.