What does strong mean?
- able to withstand great force or pressure.
- having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.
Because I have been told I am strong at many points in life, I started to meditate on what strength is. In what ways have I been strong? When people see strength, what are they seeing? Do we need to have the rug pulled out from under us to know our own strength?
Quite soon, my mind went to the paradoxes of Strength/Weakness.
And that led to awareness of the paradoxes present in every single piece of being human. Fear/No Fear, Intimacy/Separation, Clarity/Confusion, Action/Inertia.
All aspects require both to exist.
Just ask Brene Brown, and she will tell you vulnerability is a person’s greatest strength. And consider the martial arts wisdom that flowing with an adversary’s energy rather than resisting it can overcome them.
Some qualities I experience as strength:
- Physical stamina
- Acceptance of what is
- Living from inner (heart) wisdom
- Quiet sustained power (as opposed to aggressive domination power)
I believe my greatest natural strength is ability to focus. Focus is what I use every day in my job, listening intently to capture spoken words accurately. Centuries past, I might have been a scribe to famous or infamous story-makers, processing their wisdom through my body and out on a page. I also use this strength in focusing my awareness and creating anything from complex knitting structures to making music to continually learning.
It occurs to me what others see as “being strong” in me is often opposite what I admire as strength in others. For example, I have been viewed as strong by many because I have lived all but 5 years of my adult life going solo – outside intimate relationship. And I have been viewed as strong because I was tested by some dramatic life experiences and survived. (I don’t think anyone has the luxury of escaping this, and there are as many variations on the theme of surviving challenging experiences as there are humans).
YET I view friendships and intimate relationships as entities that require great strength. To sustain them one needs to accept that all the goodies involved (vulnerability, catharsis of shared emotional burdens, physical intimacy, day-to-day practical support, acceptance, shared joys) come hand-in-glove with serious juju (potential for deep heart wounds, guaranteed miscommunications and misunderstandings, psychological minefields from attempting to connect any two people’s inner worlds).
I have met a few physical challenges to prove strength to myself. They make great stories (“I slayed the dragon!”), and are the most important to society’s definition of strength. YET they are the least important to me personally.
In this way, each person may need to define strength for themselves.
We all find ourselves as little droplets suspended inside a solution of circumstance. The paradox is we can choose what to focus on inside that circumstance.
The strongest I have felt recently is in working with my own insights and habit energies to embrace the life I have. To go deep into appreciation of being alive.