This afternoon I made a trip to the backyard hammock. I had survived my daughter’s 7th birthday Frozen slumber party and was looking forward to a quiet day. I picked up my old Kindle e-reader, the one with no touch screen and no apps. I usually read on my iPad mini, but reading in a hammock outside is a Kindle occasion.
The book that happened to be at the top of the list when I powered the Kindle on was Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Such a great read. It’s the ultimate kick in the seat of the pants for anyone who wants to get something done but who keeps not doing the thing they want to do.
Pressfield is a novelist (his Gates of Fire is terrific), but The War of Art is non-fiction and non-B.S. It’s straight talk about the battle we all face when confronted by the desire to make something meaningful or to live a nobler life. He names the force that opposes our efforts the “Resistance”. From the opening pages:
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
The greats are great because they mustered the will to overcome this Resistance. The greats didn’t wait on inspiration; they put their butts in their chairs and did work, whether they felt like it or not.
Instant gratification, comfort, pleasure, pain-avoidance of any sort are all forms of Resistance. Beating Resistance is a daily undertaking. It’s not a one and done kind of battle. Pressfield encourages us, though, to use Resistance to our advantage:
“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North – meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.
We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.
Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
So, search yourself and explore the grand plans of your imagination. The plans for the kind of person you would like to be and the dreams of the work you want to do. Find where there is the most Resistance, those things that seem to be too much of a stretch, where the fear of action is greatest. There’s your calling. Head in that direction.