Battling the Resistance
February 5, 2012
I feel like I haven’t blogged in ages. I’ve been struggling with the Resistance.
Not the Resistance to writing, but the Resistance to doing watercolors for a friend’s children’s book that I’m illustrating, and the Resistance to working as a Music Manager and booking venues here in Buenos Aires and in New York for a tour with the artist I manage, Jonisio il Solista. I feel inadequate at painting, and inadequate at booking a tour. One I haven’t done in about 10 years and the other I’ve never done. I’ve been trying to remind myself that every single person who’s ever done something was first a beginner, but I don’t like being a beginner. I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing. It freaks me out and the Resistance steps in and says, “We’ll start tomorrow. Instead, why don’t you stay up til 4am reading Anthony Keidi’s autobiography, or go get a coffee at your favorite cafe, or meditate, or see if anyone loves you on Facebook, or read some fascinating science article about how incense is an antidepressant. We’ll start tomorrow.”
Of course, tomorrow never comes, because it’s always only ever NOW, NOW, NOW, and if I don’t make the choice to start NOW, I never start. And then the anxiety builds, and the time runs out, and people ask, “But what have you been doing?” And I don’t write or blog because I feel like I shouldn’t be writing or blogging, I should be ‘working,’ even though I know it’s only work to my fearful, overprotective ego, and in reality it’s PLAY. I mean, painting and researching music venues????? How retarded can I be, to let myself convince myself that that’s work that I don’t want to do/am afraid to do/can’t do well enough?
As I realized when I got down here, and all the things that I believed were barriers to my ideal life were removed: living your dreams is terrifying to the ego.
And you, dear reader, may be sitting there saying, “Well, she’s got it made. She’s getting to do all this cool stuff in Argentina. MY life sucks, though. I have REAL barriers. I have a crappy job. If I were in her shoes, I would totally be doing those things, I would totally be happy.”
Maybe you would be. But unless you are already creating, already living your ideal life, I bet if you were freed from the things you feel are currently limiting you, you’d be doing the same thing I am. Because what some Argentinian spray-painted on a bridge in the photo above is true – the only barriers are mental. They are never external. Our only barrier is our ego’s fear.
And every day I’m witnessing what a tricky bastard the ego is. Tricky bastard, but also, at heart, a loving thing that really only wants to protect us from pain and from the “death” of failure.
So, that’s where me and my ego are at right now. As soon as I post this, I intend to put on the audiobook The Alchemist to remind me that what I’m doing here is attempting to live my Personal Legend, and I’m going to sit down and paint.
Below is an excerpt and multiple quotes (ok, practically half the book, but it’s just so TRUE) from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book that gives me hope and makes me feel less retarded:
There’s a secret that real writers [artists/creators] know that wannabe writers [artists/creators] don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing [painting/creating] part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write [paint/create].
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever resolved on a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever felt a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling.. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It is our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.
Every sun casts a shadow, and genius‘ shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mown down by Resistance; millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: we don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.
The instinct that pulls us toward art is the impulse to evolve, to learn, to heighten and elevate our consciousness. The Ego hates this. Because the more awake we become, the less we need the Ego.
The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more you love your art/ calling/ enterprise, the more important its accomplishment to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it and the more Resistance you will experience facing it.
Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential… Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.
The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique not because he believes technique is a substitute for inspiration but because he wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.
We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are… That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity… because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know.