If you keep track of the post dates, you’ll notice that yesterday was the first day in ages that I flat out skipped…which is doubly silly seeing as I wrote one for the emergency queue that I could have used. I just couldn’t get my act together to focus on 366…I was too busy procrastinating on paper writing! I just have one left for the term, and–weirdly enough–this is the first time in weeks where I could take a break. So I took all weekend off of ‘school work’, and that crept into Monday, too. I’ve got to start writing today, obviously (paper’s due Thursday at noon!), but it has been sooooo nice not having to rush about all tweaked and stressed. Now, alas, I have to reharness my power to will.
Willing, as Roderick describes, is simply a matter of “actualizing one’s personal desire”, and it is that which connects will to the element of fire, which “centers around movement, action, passion, directness, attentiveness, strength, and assertion.” Actualizing desire and these purposed qualities are all functions of the frontal cortex–the part of the brain associated with reasoning, planning, parts of speech, movement, emotions, and problem solving. It understands the long term benefits and costs of any action, and allows us to reason our way through or against that action independent of any temporal emotional pulls…and I suppose it would contrast against the limbic system in the power to surrender, but that is another day’s focus.
Roderick does note that “fire people are often quick and agile. They can also be passionate, sexual, assertive, athletic, goal-oriented, and a bit sharp-tongued”–which are all nice traits in my book. But when fire takes too much control in a person’s life or personality, individuals might veer into the “hostile, angry, rageful, aggressive, destructive, hypersexual, nervous, over-assertive, impatient, demanding, back-biting, competitive, or vengeful.”
With all this in mind, Roderick asks us to “take time to commit to paper an exploration of your own relationship to willing” following these four questions:
- In what ways do you feel you are connected to the power to will?
- In what ways do you feel disconnected from the power to will?
- Have the outward qualities of fire been an important part of your life? Your culture? Your upbringing?
- What part does willing play in your life today?
It is clear that I have a problem with procrastination, and that is something that I feel disconnects me from the power to will, for it postpones or destroys my will, and makes me more passive, indirect, and dreamy than I’d like to be. Yet, I do think that I have a large portion of fire energy in me. I know that I am a very strong person: I can function under tremendous stresses and serve as a source of strength for others undergoing those stresses, too. Sure, I may completely breakdown for a period of time–when I found out my dad lost his business, for example, I drove to a parking lot an bawled for a couple of hours, then collected myself and went on with the process of living under changed conditions. This pattern repeats at every major crisis. But I do go on, and I do become a sort of leader.
I do think I need to cultivate fire energy in the form of willing in more healthy ways–but I know I can do it. I have a reservoir of this will deep within me.
Have the outward qualities of fire and will been an important part of my life? Well, action, passion, directness and such have all been privileged qualities, but when I was growing up, I think I felt a sort of pressure to temper those qualities with patience. In my house, if you wanted to get anything done, you had to go about it backhanded and get my father to think it was his idea. For example, on one of the last truly enjoyable family outings we had, my mother really wanted to grill steaks for supper, but my father was trying to pinch pennies and said hamburger and hot dogs would do. Knowing my father listened to me more than anyone else, my mom asked me if I would try to convince him that steak was the way to go. What this meant was I had to carefully pick the time and place and approach the whole thing with humor–present the situation as a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” and let my father think he was enabling some sort of dream because he got a lot of pleasure from surprising us, but only if he thought that a) we would be surprised and b) we really wanted that thing.
So I waiting until dad and I were reading together and relaxing. Then I said, “Today has been such a lovely day. You know what would really cap it off? Grilling steaks.” My dad laughed and laughed, and I joined in and heightened it to something ridiculous to make just the steak look even more attainable: “yeah…steaks and lobster. Can you imagine anything better?” Then we giggled and that was that. But you know what? Later that afternoon, Dad went to the store. And he came back with four steaks and four lobsters. That was how I got my will done, and that’s probably a good example of how I operate to this day.
Practice: Rebalancing Willing
When you notice that you are too focused on striving for outward achievement, take time to practice this grounding exercise. Light a fire in a fireplace or in a fire pit. Alternately, light four or more red candles. Stand directly in front of the fire. Open your arms, breathe deeply, and mentally invite this energy into your being. Close your eyes. Imagine that you become transparent and you allow the heat and flames to pass directly through you. stay with this exercise for at least ten minutes. When finished, jot down notes about your experience.
I think the opening to this exercise is key: too focused on striving for outward achievement. Will is most powerful when you have an internal passion for achievement. When you are striving for, say, an A in a class rather than really learning the material, you’re just focused on outward achievement.
I think I might actually be in this place. It might just be because I’m at the tail end of my coursework now, but a lot of the passion that got me into a doctoral program has fizzled. Courses and the insane pace of the quarter system has beaten the care out of me. I’m now more focused on a degree than on being a scholar. And I do have to work on this.
But right now? Well…I have to procrastinate! I need to finish this one last paper–just go through the motions and get this one thing done in a few last days before I can begin the bigger process of finding the will again.