On the Father’s Path one of the important questions is:
“What does it mean to be strong?”
All around stereotypes and superficial models offer answers, while social media and other technologies flood consciousness with implicit and explicit examples. But it has been my experience that we meet “strong” in personal and private ways. In thinking about individuals I have been fortunate to know, I started a list—not exhaustive—but a start on an answer to a very complex question. One that cannot be answered in a 90-second commercial, with stereotypes or with a sample of one or two. Strong is a composite of qualities that capture the essence of what is good in all of us on all levels of being. So, it has been my experience that to be STRONG is:
Being with; taking the vision quest; getting marked up by life and keeping the humanness; silence; comfort; listening; allowing a voice other than your own; walking through fear; staying with; being responsible and respectful in all our roles; weighing society’s expectations of identity as only part of the picture and not the whole truth; getting up for a child in the middle of the night when you are exhausted; raising teens; raising responsible children; staying with one who has suffered loss; bearing your own burdens; commitment; being true to principles; having the hard talks with loved ones; sacrifice; providing; being there; carrying on; letting go; not backing down on things that matter; backing down when you realize something more important; being whole and integrated; growing and developing; always learning; walking your talk; being productive; being consistent; being accountable to self and others; leading; learning from others; not bringing your skeletons into the present space; being adaptable and flexible; loving others for who they are rather than who you wish they were; steadfast; trustworthy; dependable; leaving it—whatever it is– better than you found it…
Strong, like other qualities, is a lifetime of work, not a static feature. I think the elders in their wisdom reminded us that yin and yang need to intermingle. If you look at the list again, you realize strong is something more than age, race, sex, gender, nationality… It is in the blood and bone of being human, being alive, being grateful for life and in love with living. And just as that symbol so eloquently says without words: soft must balance hard and hard must balance soft. Without the balance, we break.