I’m a gym freak – I love to lift weights. The muscle pump from a hard workout feels amazing and makes me feel alive. As I practice proper lifting and continue building up my muscles, I am able to lift more. Even though I am lifting more than before, my desire to lift more does not dissipate; in fact, it intensifies. Let’s start this little journey there…
So, this January 2015 edition of Garden Spices Magazine focuses on “Strength.” What thoughts come to mind when you hear/say the word, “strength?” Perhaps what comes to mind is physical strength – the ability to hold, move, lift, push or pull; or maybe it’s inner strength, like the ability to withstand, endure, remain steadfast, or even remain silent.
What images come to mind when you hear/say the word, “strength,” and do they come with an awareness that the images that come to your mind may be completely different than the images that come to the mind of another? And what about cultural and contextual implications? Here in Miami we have a wonderfully vibrant Latin American culture. In Spanish, the word, “fuerza” means both “strength” and “force,” yet we know that in English the meanings are completely different. Or are they?
Within the context of our own culture, language, understanding and experience, we arrive at our own particular conclusion of the meaning of a word or a thing. If your experience of the word “strength” comes with memories of being protected and nurtured, or if your experience of the word “strength” comes with memories of heavy handed bullying and abuse, your resonance with the word will be completely different, and so will your thoughts, words and actions.
Past experiences inform our activities of mind, speech and body, and if we use this realization as a starting point for discussion about strength and diversity, within the context of recent Grand Jury decisions in New York and Missouri, we can easily and compassionately understand the actions of everyone involved. The opportunity to view another’s experience without applying the filtered framework of our own experience opens a channel for real dialog and connection to take place. The ability to listen without needing to respond or summarily judge, to stay curious without jumping to conclusions, and to be open and compassionate without having to fully understand – and, yes for ourselves too…
…in your own experience, your present day experience – in this present moment arising – what is your understanding of strength, and what does your need to be strong look like? When you pray for strength, what are you asking for, really, and are you looking for the answer to that prayer through the eyes of your past understanding and experience? And, if so, are you doomed to repeat the experience because you are looking for what’s familiar, rather than what is new; and in the looking, are you missing the answer because you’re still looking at the question? Or, are you even missing the answer at all, unaware that the answer is right there, in your lap? In other words, are you still expecting to achieve results by pushing a 15 pound dumbbell when you’re capable of pushing a 50 pounder? (Without sounding too platitudinous, the whole “you don’t get any more than you can handle” thing comes to mind – ‘nuff said.)
According to the dictionary, “strength” is a noun. Most probably see it this way. But what if we could see it as a verb – a progressive “becoming-ness” that doesn’t depend upon past experience to define future potential, while at the same time, recognizes that past experience as the foundation upon which the ability to arrive at the strength-level of our future potential is predicated? Just the thought of that makes me feel stronger. I think I’ll go to the gym now.
Whatever I have on my plate right now, I have built up the strength to handle; and so have you. Just keep your eyes on the 50 pounder.
Parrot-loving student of existential phenomenology and its psychological implications upon the human experience.