Willing Without (Fully) Knowing
Sometimes we must move forward into will without a full sense of knowing our desire. We have a subtle wish, or an unnameable yearning, or we just know there is destiny out there, somewhere. Or sometimes we are just dissatisfied and want something more. All of these point to, and can stand in for, what may look or feel like a deeper or more profound desire.
pic by Scott Liddell
Here’s the secret: We always begin where we are.
I know someone who is actively seeking out a new career. He tried going back to school for re-training. That was engaging, and sparked a good change, but ended up not being quite the right thing. So he tried applying for jobs he was already trained in, only to find that in a difficult job market, he’s a strange combination of overqualified and too long out of his field. What has he done? He has doggedly shown up and daily continued to develop his will. He has joined networking groups, attended conferences, arisen early in the morning in order to study Mandarin, and through all of this, continued his spiritual work and leadership in his magickal lodge. Has my friend found success? On one hand, no. He’s still searching for the employment. On the other hand, yes: his will is strong and he continues to persist in this desire to have fulfilling work that will pay the mortgage and allow his brain and skills to stretch and grow. His will is in service to his desire. Even though I know there are days where this must feel like a struggle, he keeps showing up.
We can ask ourselves: “When do we decide to keep showing up, and when do we assess that we are beating our heads against the wall?” That is a good question. We must measure success by a feeling inside. Here are some criteria: do I feel engaged and satisfied by at least one part of this process, even when it feels hard? Is something in me still willing to move toward this goal, this dream, this desire? Can I imagine myself there?
When my greatest wish was to become more present and spiritually strong, I arose at 5:30 each morning in order to sit in meditation and do my prayers and energy work before attending classes, doing my homework, heading off to teach workshops on weekends, and write my first book. All of these felt important to my larger work in the world, even though I could not have told you at the time what I felt my larger work in the world was. I had a vague sense of it, and knew that no matter what it was, no matter what was needed to flesh out the desire I felt tugging upon me, I needed to be spiritually strong and far more internally integrated than I felt at the time. It was only later that I realized I was working with my whole being to what some magical systems call Knowledge and Conversation with my Holy Guardian Angel, and what I now call Self-Possession.
Despite this barely named desire, I brought as much of my will as was possible to bear on it, daily, knowing that a strong will would be needed in order to step into whatever my greater Will turned out to be. My greater Will turns out to be teaching. I still have to find ways to show up for all the systems that support it. Some things I am better at than others, and I have to apologize when facets fall through the cracks, or I simply drop the ball. Does this stop me? Nope. I keep making my best attempts to show up, even when sometimes those attempts feel like failure to certain parts of my ego. The whole of me knows I am engaged in my Divine Work.
Somehow, I have a feeling the same will be true for my friend. He will keep showing up, doing the best he can, trying different angles, learning something new. And one day, all of the disparate things he’s working on will come together, fanning the flames of a clear desire. For now, my friend is committed to arriving each day at the center of his life, as it is.