(This beautiful guy is Hotei, the god of happiness.)
Since I’ve gotten serious about finishing the book I’m spending a lot less time in Blogland so first, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies to anyone living solely for my next post. How some people whip out well-researched, erudite, interesting posts a few times a week (or even…gasp…daily) while simultaneously self-publishing multiple books and promoting them is beyond me. I can’t even type that fast.
Where the book is concerned, I’m currently taking a tip from that wildest of writers, Jack London, to heart. He claims:
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
Accordingly, first thing each morning I get out of bed, pick up my club, give it a swing or two for warm up, then sit down at the laptop and dutifully beat on it for an hour. I figure this way if inspiration ever strikes at my house, at least it won’t be hitting an empty chair.
But my blog-attention has clearly suffered as a result and just in case anyone 1) noticed or 2) cared, I thought I should at least offer an explanation.
And there you have it. Now on to today’s topic of the will to live.
Lately during club hours I’ve been having some long, thoughtful conversations with an on-again/off-again companion of mine called Mr. Will To-Live.
Mr. Will has mentioned that he’s enjoying our talks enormously as most of the time people seem to take him for granted. Well not so, me. I’ve always found him fascinating in the most elusive of ways.
He tells me that, depending on a variety of factors, he shows up a little differently for each person; sometimes strong and pulsing, sometimes erratic, sometimes frail and tenuous, and in a handful of hardship cases like mine, fractured to the point of being almost useless at times.
I asked Mr. Will what factors determine the quality of a person’s will to live and he cocked his head to one side and thought about it for a moment, then ran through this quick sampling:
1) the will to live has both nature and nurture components to it. Everyone is born with some degree of a will to live, but no matter how weak or strong it is starting out, it can always change. (In other words, don’t get too cocky on the one hand or lose hope on the other.)
2) the will to live puts down most of its root system in childhood so it needs to be fed lots of good, yummy stuff during that period. A few things that the will to live loves are:
a) safety (this lets a child know that they are very, very worth protecting)
b) kindness (this allows a child to unfurl all of their amazing, tender, new shoots)
c) encouragement (this tells the child that it’s perfectly okay to want things, even a lot)
d) freedom to explore (this confirms that the world really is a curious, interesting, worthwhile place to be)
e) tolerance for mistakes (this lets a child know that of course they can keep trying)
f) a lap and strong arms when things go wrong (this teaches a child that help is a good thing.)
3) However, if a person reaches adulthood with a gimp sort-of will to live like mine, there are still things that can strengthen it. A few of them are:
a) finding someone or something to love (we can continue to stay alive for others even when we’ve lost all desire for ourselves)
b) finding a purpose (having something meaningful to accomplish will up anybody’s endurance levels by multiples of ten)
c) finding something to fight against or spite (hate and anger can provide powerful reasons to live but have seriously debilitating side-effects. Use with caution.)
d) and lastly…service of just about any kind (bringing joy, comfort, aid, companionship or meaning to others in need can nourish not only their will to live but, mysteriously, one’s own. A marvelous trick, no?)
Service has the additional benefit of inviting Ms. Longing For Life into the room…the wind-beneath-the-wings and beautiful close cousin of Mr. Will To Live. Hopefully, I’ll be able to secure an interview with her for a future post.
In the meantime I’d like to thank Mr. Will To Live for his time and valuable insights and encourage everyone to try nourishing him with one of his favorite foods once a day. (Children aren’t the only ones who thrive with a little extra safety, kindness, encouragement, etc.) It can at least bring a little lift to someone’s day and at best totally turn things around.
copyright 2012 Dia Osborn