Ironing Thoughts

As I was ploughing my way through a huge pile of ironing, a thought suddenly struck me in the form of this question: what is the difference between a strong spirit and a strong will? (My musing was obviously prompted by what I wrote yesterday about Jade Goody.) 

As I held this question in my mind, I got a sense that the difference was significant and important. I just could not put my finger on it, and to be perfectly honest, I am not sure I can even now.

I have a sense (rather than a cogent argument) that we show a strong spirit when we surrender our will.  Surrendering our will sounds like giving up but I know it's not: it's more like giving way. Giving up implies a loss of power on our part but giving way simply changes the way we use that power. The next thing that comes to my mind is more immediately obvious: will is of the ego but spirit is of the soul.

This is all very well but what does it actually mean in practice? For me, I think showing a strong spirit means:

  • Conserving my energy for the things that are under my direct control, instead of climbing on my high horse fighting wind mills 'à la Don Quixote'. 
  • Tapping into the resources of my whole body instead of limiting my reservoir to what is inside my head
  • Focusing my attention on every day details whilst keeping my aspirations broad and airy
  • Taking small steps whenever and wherever possible whilst recognising the vastness of my journey
  • Trusting my life - not just my judgement
  • Valuing the question as much as the answer
  • Accepting that gratitude and anger are not always mutually exclusive
  • Opening myself to what is rather than closing myself to what might be
  • Allowing myself to be brave and terrified all at the same time
  • Laughing at my ability to be brilliant one minute and a total dingbat         the next!

In religious terms, I suppose a strong spirit trusts in God whilst a strong will trusts in Man. Then again, God helps those who helps themselves so surrendering to His Will is NOT synonymous to relinquishing responsibility for my own life.

In secular terms, I suppose it's wiser to go with the flow than to constantly swim against the current.

But there is something more, something I haven't quite got hold of yet. There is something about a strong spirit that shines: it is bright and it is warm. In many ways, a strong will is the exact opposite: it is cold and there isn't much brilliance to it - it feels more like a brick wall or a steamroller. My facial muscles register the difference too: if I think 'spirit' my facial expression is open with a faint smile - if I think 'will' my face tightens with a slight frown. 'Spirit' and 'will' have a different energy and a different emotional content.

So a strong spirit is warm, open and smiley - by contrast, a strong will is cold, closed and frowny. No contest eh? If I don't want to be ironing out too many wrinkles, I'd better focus my caring attention on strengthening my spirit  - and let my will take care of itself :0)

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