When I was in kicking around in utero, as the story goes, my father placed his hand on the growing bulk that was soon to become me and said, “Be gentle, Julia”, a name taken from the book he was reading at the time, Gentle Julia, by Booth Tarkington. Hence, my name—Julia.
That memory came to mind today as I was pondering the newest spiritual growth assignment that I have recently bestowed upon myself. It’s a biggie. I call it Willingness to Strengthen the Will. Cheech. It’s like quitting smoking, or giving up the wine habit. I want to, but do I really mean it? I mean really, really?
I do, but I don’t. Like anything worth working for, it will require great commitment and sacrifice, and I have to stop and ask myself if the reward is worth the effort. Throughout the decades of my life, I have learned that when the do becomes stronger than the don’t, then a modicum of willingness creeps in, and I become willing to begin to consider the possibility of taking a leap and making the change. I am happy to report that as of today, the do‘s outweigh the don’t‘s and I am ready. It only took an entire lifetime to get to this point of readiness but finally, here I am. And let’s face it—I’m no spring chicken.
What caused me to turn the corner into willingness? I realized that the final curtain is coming down and when it does, I want to know that I have done everything in my power while I am still here to finish whatever it is that I came here to do. I may not get it done completely before I go, but I can give it my best shot, and at the very least get a head start for the next time around. This is a job that may require more than one lifetime, but I need to start somewhere, right?
When I say that this is a biggie, I mean, this is really a biggie. For one who has spent a lifetime wrestling with procrastination, distraction and lack of focus topped by a probable case of undiagnosed, untreated ADD, strengthening the will is indeed an act of will.
It’s not like I can tap a magic wand on my head and proclaim myself strong-willed. I can’t suddenly go cold turkey on procrastination and distraction the way I did with smoking and my daily wine habit. I’ve tried it before, and it didn’t work. I’d give it my best shot, invariably flunk, and wind up feeling guilty for my failure. Then I’d sink back into my old ways of inaction, or doing what I shouldn’t, or whatever else added to my waning sense of self-worth. It can be a lot easier to judge oneself than to be kind, gentle, and forgiving of one’s own human frailty.
Maybe it’s something in the stars, or a growing awareness that the old way of the world is dying and a new one is emerging. Life is changing before my very eyes, and the good news is that I have an opportunity to change along with it.
What’s different now? Desire, purpose, motivation, and an intention to get there from here. Rome wasn’t built in a day and unrealistic expectations lead to discouragement and failure. Now finally, a strong intention for strengthening the will has started the wheels turning, and off I go, off into a new and exciting world of seeing how life looks when a choice is made between serving the personal will vs. the serving will of the soul.
This time I will live up to my name and be gentle with myself. I will be kind and forgiving and allow for stumbles and falls, and remember that I am a work in progress. I will know that like a child, I am being helped and guided and loved each step along the way and that in the end, I will make it in spite of my human frailties and foibles.
We are here to learn, to grow, to use this life experience to find the best within ourselves. It is a rocky road, but in the long run it is the only road worth traveling, because in the end the reward is unparalleled joy. The best way that I know about how to get there from here is to wake up and see the light of a new day, a new dawn, a new world. Intention, motivation, purpose and desire are the ingredients of the fuel that will propel me to where I want to go.
I’m not there yet, but I’m making good progress. I’m learning that trying to force myself into compliance will result in failure, and that allowance is the key that unlocks the door to success. Allowance is kind, gentle, forgiving. It arrives packaged in grace and leaves room for stumbles, lapses in judgment, and momentary setbacks. Allowance gently leads us by the hand, helps us to make conscious decisions, and reminds us to ask for the help we need to get us to our destination.
I have a feeling that as time goes by, there will be a lot more to say about my adventures in Will Strengthening 101, so stay tuned . . . Meanwhile, note to self: be gentle, Julia. And thanks to my father for giving me a name that reminds me to be gentle not just to myself, but to all.
Before you go—
If you could use a little drink from the fountain of love in the midst of a world of fear, you might enjoy a look at A Tree of Light website. It is an inspiration and oasis for the soul.
You may also find a bit of inspiration and humor in Voices, a book full of my tales of woe and triumphs in my travels on the road to enlightenment.