Warning. This post was born out of a burning desire, when an endless overflow of words began to fill the blanks in The War of Art. It has been like assisting to the re-birth of the Phoenix.
IChing was the first book that made me seriously think of persistence as the mother of skills, way before Anthony Robbins made it even more persuasive through his Money: Master the Game book. Money is convincing. But a 600+ pages book filled with crazy-Confucian-practical philosophy, studied while hermiting at Pasubio Moutains, was impressive as hell. Dear Steven Pressfiled, I love the way you remind me of persistence. Show up. Show up. Show up.
Resistance though hit me once again. I spent days reading articles that failed to light me on fire. Steven Pressfield’s book was winking at me day and night. I was used to think that miracles kick in mysteriously, that there’s no way to grasp what’s going on in the backstage. Waiting for things to happen, though, is a pain in the ass. You need to go out and catch them (do you understand any Italian? I strongly recommend you to check this out).
The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not to come, whatever they like.
This is Zen, isn’t it? Consistence, building up a process is the cure. Given you’re going to do your job, whatever it is meant to be, you earn the power to be at peace. Remember that you’re never done. When low satisfaction strikes, you look back to seek what could have been done better. But there is no point arguing with the mirror. If you did your job, if you craved and struggled to set up a masterful process and you keep up with it, there is no need to look back, neither forward. Don’t forget that
The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.
You know you’re going to repeat that process over and over. That is what you were meant to be. That’s what you are here for.
We apparently overestimate the likelihood of a short-term change, and underestimate the long-term one. Nevertheless, taking action might bother those around you. They could accuse you not being the person you were. You’ve shifted gears. I recently had to deal with that, and eventually leave the people I was living with. It is so obvious and even desirable not to be the person you used to be. Change happens. Some might like it, some won’t. I learned that true friends will incite me to move on. But at the very end, it comes to no one but me to judge whether I like it ot not.
You’re no closer to taking action than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.
Sometimes I do think Resistance isn’t real, as far as I consider duality itself the major deception. Pressfield boosts it with the following statement:
Resistance has no strength on its own. […] We feed it with power by our fear of it.
I laze, when I think I own it. Many philosophies try to guide us to that very juice. We own what we experience, when we come to believe that we are the source of perception. But reality is, we usually don’t live that way. That is the point where self-dramatization and victimhood come in, just to name a few. Reality is, we’ve got to keep moving to be alive.
Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance.
That is a very old story. Once upon a time, God created Light and Darkness, right? Most of the time, we forget that both of them are God’s creations. When we seek for pain-free means we mistakenly acknowledge that Light is God, and there’s no room for Darkness. You know what the real magic is? It doesn’t work! We would inevitably face awful moments, and they’ll get worse and worse if we don’t allow them to be.
If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are.
Sometimes, we say what we need to be told.
We get ourselves in trouble because it’s a cheap way to get attention.
Being in trouble is appealing. But a working artist cannot allow himself to be in trouble, because it prevents himself to get the shit done. Want to get out of troubles? Get your homework done. Still can’t figure out what your homework is? That is Resistance in action. Go and clear that out – it’s the major part of the homework itself.
The truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery.
Freedom is troublesome. We’ve spent millions of years trying to get out of the tribal mindset, striving to act indipendently from one another. Freedom is a mess. Rebellion took us to places we’ve never lived before. Artists feel the importance to look forward and not to be stuck in the past. Artists feel that best stories are yet to be written, and beware of bending over to study sacred texts.
Self-mastery doesn’t have limits, and freedom has the same promising outlook. The major challenge is to fit them in a limited, earthly existence.
Not to beat around the bush but…to add anything further might be worthless. Nevertheless, it is useful to notice how healing and resistance become allies. How many times have you turn down accomplishing that stressful important task because you didn’t feel well enough?
The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free.
Not to mention that, doing your homework is the way to heal yourself effectively, and stay there.
The chapter was ending. I thought I was done. But Pressfield kicked in with hilarious genius:
Seeking support from friends and family is like having your people gathered around at your deathbed. It’s nice, but when the ship sails, all they can do is stand on the dock waving goodbye.
At death’s door, I bet I’d appreciate it even more.
Now that you’ve get prepared, it is the time to face the 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.
It reminds me of that old story. We somehow tend to believe that the opposite of love is hate. Artists know that what kills the most is indifference. Leave out for a moment the concept of “soul’s evolution” – it might be something you’re not interested in. The point is that if anything meant nothing to us, there would be no Resistance at all. You should find a framework to dissect and understand emotional feelings, otherwise they’ll just own you. Rational thinking bridges the gap between ever ending fear and enthusiasm. And be careful rationalization not to take over, preventing you to see your fears and act upon them.
Tao is a never-ending game.
Complement the reading with The Only Way to Stop Stressing About a Task Is to Finally Start It and the smartest video I’ve ever seen about procrastination.