The Key: And The Name of the Key is Willingness by Cheri Huber is on my reading list. A friend introduced me to it -- an easy introduction to Zen Buddhism -- after she told me about a dream where she was given "The Key of Willingness."
Since her story, I started thinking about willingness and how it shapes my life. Most often I use this word in regards to a goal -- something to accomplish. Alternatively, I've thought about willingness as taking on greater and greater responsibility. In this way, it seems to stem from the idea of will -- a sense of internal power that spurs you to action.
However, I realized there was another side to the concept of willingness -- one that is quiet and still. We don't often acknowledge the courage it takes to be in this state of willingness because perhaps in these moments of discomfort we don't recognize it as willingness.
This is the willingness to experience the totality of life in all it's joys and sufferings. Such as the willingness to face death, illness, loss of love, and poverty.
The willingness to adapt and change. The willingness to listen when you want to shut down. The willingness to stay put when you'd rather run away.
This kind of willingness doesn't come with a tangible reward at the end, rather it asks you to remain more and more open and to face more and more personal challenges with acceptance and ease.
Whether you like it or not life will hand you challenges, which ask you to cultivate this tender quality of willingness. However, it's up to you to be ready, willing, and able to accept them.