Toad baked some cookies. “These cookies smell very good,” said Toad. He ate one. “And they taste even better,” he said. Toad ran to Frog’s house. “Frog, Frog,” cried Toad, “taste these cookies that I have made.”
Frog ate one of the cookies. “These are the best cookies I have ever eaten!” said Frog.
Frog and Toad ate many cookies, one after another. “You know, Toad,” said Frog, with his mouth full, “I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick.”
“You are right,” said Toad. “Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one last cookie. There were many cookies left in the bowl. “Frog,” said Toad, “let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie. “We must stop eating!” cried Toad as he ate another.
“Yes,” said Frog, reaching for a cookie, “we need will power.”
“What is will power?” asked Toad.
“Will power is trying hard not to do something that you really want to do,” said Frog.
“You mean like trying not to eat all of these cookies?” asked Toad.
“Right,” said Frog. Frog put the cookies in a box. “There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.” “But we can open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog. Frog tied some string around the box. “There,” he said, “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”
“But we can cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog. Frog got a ladder. He put the box up on a high shelf. “There,” said Frog. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”
“But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog. Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf. He cut the string and opened the box. Frog took the box outside. He shouted in a large, loud voice, “hey birds, here are cookies!” Birds came from everywhere. They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away.
“Now we have no more cookies to eat,” said Toad sadly. “Not even one.”
“Yes,” said Frog, “but we have lots and lots of will power.”
“You may keep it all, Frog,” said Toad. “I’m going home to bake a cake.”
There is willfulness and will power. And then there is willingness. In Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology, Gerald May, an American Psychiatrist and Theologian, writes about willingness and willfulness and the clear, yet subtle distinction between the two:
Willingness and willfulness do not apply to specific things or situations. They reflect instead the underlying attitude one has toward the wonder of life itself. Willingness notices this wonder and bows in some kind of reverence to it. Willfulness forgets it, ignores it, or at its worse, actively tries to destroy it. Thus willingness can sometimes seem very active and assertive, even aggressive. And willfulness can appear in the guise of passivity.