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Behind all, there must be the Will

8 dicembre 2013

Behind all, there must be the Will (not only the will of running).

I was on a radio show discussing exercise with a woman who did not exercise. “The spirit is willing”, she told me, “but the flesh is weak”.

I had, of course, heard the excuse many times before. But for the first time,

it occurred to me that the opposite was also true. The flesh is willing; it is the spirit that is most often weak. Our bodies are capable of the most astounding feats. But the horizons of our spirits do not reach beyond the TV, the stereo, and the car in garage.

The flesh is not only willing; it is eager for action. The flesh is filled with everything our spirit lacks: strength and energy, endurance and stamina. We come from a breed that crossed continents on foot and trekked from pole to pole. Even now, we see busy mothers running marathons, stockbrokers in Outward Bound, retired executives climbing everest.

Immagine: dalla rete (fotogramma del film Forrest Gump)

Immagine: dalla rete (fotogramma del film Forrest Gump)

We are of a flesh that asks for more and more challenges, that seeks one frontier after another. What is missing is not physical energy. The fuel is there, waiting to be ignited. We need some spark to light the fires, something to get us into action.

From the moment we wake up in the morning, we cop the plea that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We lie abed as the alarm clock, the radio, and the family take turns trying to get us up. Still we remain immobile until the last possible minute. Yet how many calories does it take to overcome inertia and get out of bed? Whose bodies are so exhausted that they can’t get their feet on the floor? I can plead that I’m in a semi-coma not yet ready for coordinated action, but similar scenarios recur throughout the day. The body is ready, willing, and able, but the spirit is becalmed. Where there is no emotion, there is no motion either. What is missing is the spiritual energy called enthusiasm. It is from lack of enthusiasm that the failures of the spirit multiply during the day. When we are enthusiastic, we develop a determination to equal the endurance of our muscles, a fortitude to match the courage of our hearts, and a passion to join with the animal strengths of our bodies.

To succeed at anything, you need passion. You have to be a bit of a fanatic. If you would move anyone to action, you must first be moved yourself. To instigate, you must first be instigated. […]

Dr. George Sheehan, 1980

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