| text and photo © Jonathan Zap
cement graffiti found on Boulder sidewalk
Card URL: http://www.zaporacle.com/card/miles-to-go-before-you-sleep-protecting-your-life-drive-and-will-to-live/
A successful human incarnation means that you must protect your life drive and your will to live. To do so, you must be aware of what things enhance your will to live and what things undermine it. The most fundamental thing that enhances will to live is meaningfulness, moving toward the experience of meaning, and this almost always involves love for self and others. Know the things that give meaning to your life — key relationships, creative projects, useful service, learning and exploration — whatever are your personal sources of meaning. These are the things that stand up to the ultimate test question: What will I remember well on my deathbed?
Healthy relationships, people we trust and can confide in and who can do the same with us, are inestimable treasures. All sorts of studies have shown that people who have high quality relationships live longer. Protecting your health enhances your life drive. One of the most reliable things I can do to increase my life drive and get immediate results is cardiovascular exercise. I recommend a daily connection to vigorous aerobic exercise. A healthy diet is crucial as well since food is both what our body is made of and its main energy source. Eat high vitality food that is as close to living plants as possible. Avoid denatured food-like substances that have been heavily processed by ruthless commercial enterprises.
Know the things that diminish your life drive and your will to live and devise strategies for reducing or eliminating those things. Addictions always harm life drive, especially addictions to things you put in your body. Looking for wholeness in another person rather than yourself can be a real killer of will to live when you go through the inevitable disempowerment and disenchantment that results. Letting time slip away so that you don't get to the highest value things that bring meaning and fulfillment to your life is one of the greatest killers of life drive. All sorts of things have subtle or not so subtle effects on life drive and will to live. For example, if I let my living space get messy I get demoralized and find that it's harder to enthusiastically wake up in the morning knowing that I will get out of bed and face a messy space. Letting life get messy in general undermines life drive and will to live.
A great strategy for protecting life drive is to avoid falling into paralyzed regret when you get off your path and do self-destructive things. We all have times when we succumb to our addictions or give our power away to something or someone. We all do things that undermine our life drive and will to live. Cut your losses, and get back on track as quickly as possible. If you take a wrong exit on the freeway when is the best time to turn back? As soon as you recognize your mistake. The longer you continue in the wrong direction the more backtracking you have to do. Don't curse yourself for taking a detour, just get back on track as quickly as possible. If you stop too long looking back with regret you may turn to stone and be unable to act. No matter how bad the detour, that's always the best strategy. For example, let's say I am waking up in an alley in a pool of my own vomit. Hazy memories start flooding in of a night spent sharing needles with people who were HIV positive. I'm homeless, penniless and have no property except the vomit-encrusted clothes I slept in. What is my best course of action? It's exactly what it would be any morning — to pick myself up and make the best use of the life that remains to me. If you are waking up in circumstances more favorable than that, so much the better.
Sometimes what undermines our life drive and will to live are things that are not directly the result of our choices. We may lose someone we love, find that we have a disease, lose our job or struggle in a bad economy. We need compassion for ourselves and to make the best use we can of a life drive that might be diminished for a time. We cannot afford self-pity or paralyzed regret, but should focus on the life-affirming things that are still possible. Perseverance and endurance are recognized by the I Ching and many other classic wisdom sources as core virtues needed by human beings and most other living things on this plane of reality. And don't forget the French proverb: "One may go a long way after one is tired."
I'll close with the Robert Frost poem that inspired the sidewalk engraving and the title of this card:
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.