Sherringham Park, Norfolk, February 2011
... and lust for life
In July 2010 I was asked by Rony Schenker from Tsad Kadima in Israel why, though I often mention the connection between body and soul when discussing the resources that we have within us to overcome disability, do I not mention the human spirit. Rony said: “spirit is not to be confused with optimism or hope, it is more a case of being stubborn in the positive sense of the word, being ready to cope, not giving up when all others have lost faith.”
I have just come upon my reply to her, something that I wrote in the middle of the night and that had almost been lost amongst old emails as I changed to a new computer. I think that it is too interesting to disappear into the depths of the gigabytes of old material.
I have corrected the mistakes and added a word or two to make this midnight missive a bit more presentable but this is the gist of how it went:
I am not sure what this is, this spirit. So I will ramble on a bit and maybe in that way I shall find out, or perhaps discover something else!
In my Grandmother's days one would say “she was in good spirits” or “in low spirits”. In my words and not my Grandmother’s I would say that one or the other of these states is the result of having a healthy soul or an unhealthy soul.
This word spirit is not one that I use. The only spirits I know apart from ghosts and ghoulies especially those in Dickens, and Holy ones, and whisky and gin.
Do you perhaps mean "lust for life"?
I think that is how I would describe it, a lust for life, which in other words is “the motivation to do something, to want to live”.
The word "spirit" (or he "human spirit") is too religious in its connotations to use to describe my work and a little bit too airy-fairy for me even to think about using it to describe anything about real life in action.
It is the English language again
Using the word "spirit" in English is almost like the use of the word "soul" in English, people often consider you to be barmy or a bible-basher or floating on cloud nine if you use it too often. I have written about this before, early on in my blogging life:In Germany it is considered quite OK to use Seele and Geist and of course you read the “spirit of the age”, the Zeitgeist, in almost every article in an English- language newspaper these days.
The words Geist and Seele are interchangeable in many cases in German, and I would opt for the word Seele each time, in English the "soul".
In some situations the word Lebhaft is used, which means full of life or lively, which I think is not really what you are describing when using the word "spirit". Full of life is not quite the same as having a lust for life.
One can have lust for life without being full of life, or lively.
As spirits can either be low or high I prefer to use "lust for life", as when one has a lust for life it can only be something positive. This is what we conductors also call "motivation", and this is what I believe develops when we show our clients and ourselves how to have a healthy soul. We become motivated to live an active life.
Yes I think you probably mean the effect that having a healthy soul has on living, it gives one that lust for life and it motivates one to want to get out of bed in the morning and get on with things. With a healthy soul we are motivated to go out to town and try on nice clothes, pick up a phone to arrange to meet a friend, to learn to do something as yet untried, to sit in a cafe and eat nice food and while there to watch people passing by, and smile and chat to them just as I did today, even when physically I was feeling under the weather. That is lust for life and it comes as a result of having a healthy soul.
That is what conductive living does.
It creates a healthy soul and we become motivated to live an interesting, full and, when this is possible, also a physically active life. Spiralling upwards!
I do not think being stubborn, even if there is a positive way to be so, describes lust for life or motivation, (spirit). To me "stubbornness" describes someone who is closing in, refusing, digging in the heels.
Being motivated and wanting to live life to the full is being open and accepting. With a healthy soul one can do more than just cope, one can expand and be open to influences from all angles.
Still thinking about it
This was the end of my rambling reply, I do not know if it came anywhere near to answering what Rony was asking as the conversation between the two of us stopped here.
But the conversation has never stopped in my mind and I think about this often. This is the mainstay of my work, the motivating, the creation, or development, of happy souls, the discovery what it is that gives people that lust for life. Discovering what it is that we can do together that is so much fun that it encourages action, interaction, or the wish to learn is what conductive living, upbringing is all about.
I have called the result of my healthy soul my "lust for life" nearly all my life not only since I became a conductor, or a little bit German.
When this lust for life is not there it is hard to get up in the mornings. Even though the body is willing the psyche and/or the soul often are not, resulting in a lack of that wish for action. We have to have them (all) in sync to be "leaping", as an arty friend of mine puts it. That is what AP (András Petö) said too, many times, in his weird and wonderful tome the UNFUG.
The Unfug - Karl Otto Bärnklau (1965) Unfug der Krankheit—Triumph des Heilkunst, Hannau/Main, Verlag Karl Schustek