Indomitable Spirit

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two jumps. — David Lloyd George

Indomitable spirit is a hard tenet to grasp — even the words seem hard. Abominable spirit. Abdominal spirit. The words come out all jumbled. But from this tenet comes the strength to not just persevere, but to rise above one’s Self.

“There is in this world no such force as the force of a man determined to rise. The human soul cannot be chained,” according to W.E.B. DuBois.

Breaking it down, indomitable means incapable of being overcome, subdued or vanquished. Spirit has a variety of meanings: the soul; the animating life force; the part of a person associated with the mind, will and feelings; strong loyalty and dedication (i.e., team spirit). Spirit also means to impart courage and determination.

Put together, indomitable spirit is that part of a person which makes them unique, that part of a person which provides hope, strength and courage to get up and face each day with a smile. Indomitable spirit is perseverance on a long term basis.

Indomitable spirit is the spark that gives life. Tennessee Williams once wrote, “I think time is a merciless thing. I think life is a process of burning oneself out and time is the fire that burns you. But the spirit of man is a good adversary.” As long as the indomitable spirit remains, there is little that can defeat anyone. Without the indomitable spirit, hope flies away; life becomes harder to face, even to the point of meaninglessness; there is no laughter, love, pain or truth. A life without pain sounds wonderful. But picture leaning on a stove and never feeling it. Would the gentle touch of a friend’s hand mean as much if there were no tears? Indomitable spirit gives us these gifts.

Arthur Ashe was a fighter not only on the tennis courts, but in his very life. Ashe was diagnosed with HIV and talked very openly about his health and his battle. Gracious to the end, Ashe personified indomitable spirit. “Always have the situation under control, even if losing. Never betray an inward sense of defeat,” he said. His courage, dignity and honesty touched millions around the world.

Indomitable spirit was most brought to life by Cal Bayshore. I was at a taekwon-do tournament when this little kid about 7 years-old came out on the floor, feet and arms akimbo — and a smile from ear to ear. It was obvious he was struggling to even walk unaided. But out he went and did his pattern — bringing cheers from the crowd and tears to the eyes of many watching. He won the silver medal.

As I talked with a mom from the school where he trains she said, “There, that’s the hardest thing for him to do.” I looked out and saw him standing. She went on to add that he couldn’t walk without a walker when he first came to the school.

At the end of a very long seven hour day of ceremonies and competition, I looked out from the bleachers where I was slumped from exhaution to see him out dancing to music with the Argentinian taekwon-do team, two bright green crutches lifted high in the air and still that smile from ear to ear. This is what indomitable spirit really is!

Random thoughts on the Indomitable Spirit

Come to the edge, he said.
They said : we are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them.
And they flew. — Apolloinaire

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. It is the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles to death. — Thomas Paine

As an old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a boy ahead of him picking up starfish from the white, sandy shore and flinging them back into the sea.  Finally catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The boy answered that if left stranded, the starfish would die in the hot, morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles,” countered the old man. “How can your efforts make any difference?”  The boy looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the churning waves. “It makes a difference to this one,” he said gently.  — Author unknown

You say that your sky has been changing lately. That you’re tired and broken. That the answers you thought you’d found don’t seem to work right anymore.  We’ve been down these sad roads a thousand times before, sat quietly on lonely hillsides, cried with forgotten songs on the radio. Always, it was our belief in other days that got us through.  I remember planting dreams with you, chasing wishes, watching flowers. But what I remember best is how you always made me laugh, even when the world around us was falling apart.  All these years, walking the solitary paths where I found and lost myself a thousand times, I never felt alone because you were in my memory. You were there and I will always stand by you.  Go outside now, and walk away. Find one of those roads again somewhere in the quiet shade of gentle trees. Take this thought and hug your shadow and love yourself and remember these things: There is nothing in this world worth giving up for what you’ve already achieved. You will always be a fighter and a dreamer. Now, more than ever, you’ve got to look deep within your heart and believe.

I consider myself the luckiest man on earth. I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for! — Lou Gehrig

What does the word “spirit” mean? No one can give a definition of what it feels like. The spirit is the sense of something higher than ourselves, something that stirs us in thoughts, hopes and aspirations which go out into the world as goodness, truth and beauty. The spirit is the burning desire to breathe in this world of light and never lose it. — Albert Schweitzer

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible. It’s yours. — Ayn Rand

Either we have hope within us or we don’t. It is a dimension of the soul.
It is not the conviction that something will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. — Valclav Havel

9 thoughts on “Indomitable Spirit”

  1. This is awesome. Got to remind myself every moment that all limitations in my life are my own making. I got to live life to the full none stopping me but myself

  2. Wonderful writing! I have been feeling depressed lately. Not something that I usually experience and sort of surprised me. I have had Lupus for 40 years, Was given two years to live when diagnosed at 18. Told I would never have children. I have two healthy grown kids. I have had two kidney transplants after being on dialysis 4 years and 2 years before each surgery. Undergone countless dialysis graft surgeries and a nephrectomy. Had rejection episodes and serum sickness. Septicemia 3 separate times. Countless infections and pneumonia . I have always managed to view it as just temporary. I would be okay. It was in God’s hands. This year I have had Shingles, Bell’s Palsy and a tooth extraction and UTI all at the same time. Then I broke my right Fibula and the UTI returned. I did not get the appropriate care right away making it a longer recovery. Still in a boot. The broken bone broke me. I just felt I could not go on living like this. I was angry. Don’t know why this relatively minor event just did me in. Not life threatening. Been there and handled the life threatening stuff. This should have been nothing. It felt major. Of course, because I have always handled everything else, my family did not really understand what this was like for me and had relatively little compassion for me. I heard this phrase the other day. “Indomitable spirit”. I think I have had an indomitable spirit these many years. Since I have lost it. I have been sort of researching it. I found your blog. I really appreciate your beautiful writing. I will heal, I will carry on, I will have an indomitable spirit. If nothing else can be said about me when the good Lord comes to take me home. I want people to say, ” She had an indomitable spirit”. I hope I didn’t bore you tears! Keep up the beautiful work.

  3. My soul is on fire after being nearly extinguished. My spirit only a flicker of the Phoenix my heart has become. I do not know if there is a limit to the speed at which a man can grow his mind, his influence or his position in the hierarchy of the world. I have become the man that will find out.

    Joshua S. Hoffman

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Indomitable Spirit is the most difficult to explain of the Tenets of Taekwondo — it is easy to confuse it with Perseverance. This strikes me as being strongly related to the concept of “Grit” as put forward by Angela Duckworth in her work. The quotes from Arthur Ashe and Vaclav Havel were particularly illuminating.

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