The Human Spirit

October 28, 2012

The human spirit is a remarkable thing.  No matter how often people or circumstances try to crush it, with the least little bit of hope it springs back to life.

We see this trait in revolutionaries.  No matter how tired they are and how hopeless their cause seems to be, when they see the smallest glimmer of hope, they reach inside of themselves for that extra burst of energy and that extra ounce of determination and continue fighting.

We have seen people who have been beaten down by life, who have given up and don’t care if they live or die, but as soon as they sense that someone is reaching out to help them, they find the strength to rise up and grab that help with both hands.

And that makes me wonder if anything is really hopeless.

I have often said that you have to know when to let go of something, that maybe if you have tried your best and it still hasn’t happened, that maybe it’s not meant to be, and this is certainly a rule I have lived by.  But now that I’m writing about the indomitable human spirit I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t rethink that rule.

In retrospect, the principle of knowing when to stop pushing the river because it flows by itself, has saved me a lot of time,  energy, and wasted emotion.  But if the human spirit can constantly keep being revived with just a little bit of hope and  determination, then maybe I should keep pushing that river and see where else I can get it to flow.

Another one of my precepts has always been to choose my battles carefully because I can’t fight on every front.  This was a very important realization for me because when I was young, I used to fight for everything that I thought was important.  And when I was young, everything was important.

Nowadays, I try to limit myself to just fighting for my principles whereas in my younger days, I fought for every cause that I thought bordered on an injustice.  I still fight injustice but I choose my  battles more carefully.

I have learned not to be the maverick of lost causes, or at least I’ve tried to learn not to be the maverick of lost causes.  For one thing, there are so many of these lost causes that I know it’s impossible to fight for all of them.  For another thing, I don’t have the energy of my younger years to fight for all of them.

They say that age makes you mellow.  Nah.  Age just makes you more tired so you don’t have the energy to expend on all battle fronts.  And that’s probably more to the point of why you need to choose your battles carefully because you can’t stay young forever.

If I’m going to have to reexamine my rule about knowing when to quit an undertaking and move on to something more productive, then I’m also going to have to take into account the indomitability of the human spirit and see if maybe I was giving up too soon.

Most of us have learned the value of stepping back and regrouping when meeting insurmountable obstacles.  We have learned that if you can’t achieve what you want by walking through the front door, then look for an opening in the side door or the back door.  And, prior to now, I have always thought that if you’re still not getting anywhere, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and redirect your energies elsewhere.

But what if I was wrong?  What if I stopped temporarily, went on to doing something else, and then went back to it sometime in the future?  If I did that, time and distance would probably give me a different perspective, maybe different information, different options, and maybe even different results.

With that in mind, it bears remembering that with the passage of time, most things undergo some kind of changes.  And just that concept alone could be the glimmer of hope that the human spirit can hang on to and not give up.

I’m a realist at heart.  I don’t want to keep tilting at windmills like Don Quixote but nor do I want to give up my impossible dream if the human spirit is capable of being revived with the smallest glimmer of hope and determination.  If it’s simply a matter of timing, along with our best efforts, then we need to factor that into the equation.

If timing, along with determination, can get us past our worst obstacles, then maybe every business deal can be salvaged and every relationship can be saved.  Maybe all of life is just a matter of taking a step back, for however long it takes, and regrouping and allowing the human spirit to spring back to life.

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