In his article “The Training of the Will”, Roberto Assagioli, M.D., points out that “the simplest and most frequent way in which we discover our will lies in determined action and struggle. When we make a physical or mental effort, when we are actively wrestling with some obstacle or opposing forces, we feel a specific power rising up within us; we become animated by an inner energy and experience a sense of “willing”.1
It is well to realize thoroughly the full meaning and the immense value of the discovery of the will. In whatever way it happens, either spontaneously or through conscious action, in a crisis or in the quiet of inner recollection, it constitutes a most important and decisive event in our lives. The will is the central power of our individuality, the innermost essence of ourself; therefore, in a certain sense, the discovery of the will means the discovery of our true being.2
After exploring every possible means available to me, I was eventually able to make the trip to Europe. The finances that I needed arrived the day before the scheduled flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to London. The following night, on the way to the airport there was heavy traffic causing us to run late. Overall, the mix of excitement, fear, and stress led to my very first panic attack. Although I did not know that is what it was then. I simply remember that the abdominal pain that developed was so intense that I could barely move a muscle and that I found it difficult to breathe.
Once we arrived at JFK Airport, the muscle spasms begin to let up enough for me to get my bags out of the car and go ahead to the check-in counter. Upon joining everyone in the waiting area I managed to put on a good face and hide any signs of physical discomfort.
About one hour into the flight I thought to myself, no one need ever know how close I came to giving up before the journey actually began. I have come to believe that it is in these trying situations that we begin to formulate a strong will or to become habitual quitters with the potential to become our own worst enemies.
Assagioli presupposes that most people would like to have a strong will, but few are determined to acquire it. Instead, they are deterred by the effort and perseverance required. Yet this is hardly reasonable. Anyone who really wants to master a foreign language or to play a musical instrument is willing to devote all the time, energy and expense necessary to their study. Why not then do the same for the will? It is illogical to expect that strengthening will take place without the perseverance and the effort necessary for development of any ability, either mental or physical or spiritual.
Therefore, the first indispensable condition for acquiring a strong will is the earnest resolve to devote to its attainment whatever time, energy and means are necessary. As Tame said, one must “will systematically and earnestly, every day, for a year, for two, for three years…. Man can-re-make himself, still more, he can make himself; it is a great power, a noble task for a lofty spirit and a generous heart.” (Correspondence, Vol. II, p.251)
…even the weakest, have at least a little will power and, although it may only exist in an embryonic state, still it is sufficient for beginning the work.3
After the six-hour flight, we arrived in London. From there, we crossed the English Channel by ship then docking in Paris, France. A few days later we boarded a train and travelled from Paris to Rome, Italy. The total duration of the trip abroad was eight weeks. Without question, the entire excursion proved worth every bit of the effort and sacrifice that it required. It to this day remains an unforgettable experience.