In my last post, The Other Fifteen, I promised I would go into some examples in my own life where experiencing Resistance pointed to the thing I most needed to do. In War Of Art, Stephen Pressfield writes:
Resistance will unfailingly point to true north – meaning that call or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or purpose we must follow before all others.
This took a while to sink in, and, truth be told, it’s still sinking in. But it’s one of the most profound truths I’ve ever come across. How has it showed up in my own life? Well, usually, the thing I most need to do is the thing I am not doing. Example: I wake up. I know I need to learn a new song today, but I could really use some coffee. Starbucks has that new Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato which I can’t seem to start my days without. On my way to Starbucks, I realize I need to slip by the bank to deposit a check. Once that is done, and I’m back at the house, I think, oh, I haven’t even eaten breakfast yet. So I make myself a good, hearty one: three scrambled eggs with feta cheese, grape tomatoes, kale, mushrooms, cayenne pepper, and garlic. That was good! Ok, now for that song. But wait a second. How long’s it been since I’ve been to the gym? Last week?! Better get it out of the way now. So I hop on over to the gym. You can see where this is going. The song gets pushed to the back burner (I’ll get to it right after this) and half the time, doesn’t get learned at all, at least, not until I make a valiant effort to sit down and ignore everything else.
For another example, I’ll use a blurb from one of my personal musings:
…[A] visit to the vice-ridden Hog Wild Saloon one night in Kingsport, Tennessee while on a cross-country trek to a gig in Richmond, Virginia … really drove it all home for me. I was standing there, agape at the small-town Tennessee girls who in truth, had they been transplanted to any run-of-the-mill nightclub in any major city, would not have appeared half as appealing, when it struck me that I was experiencing more resistance in dancing with these girls than I was with my own music.
At that point in time, I was finding it easy to sit down and practice, or write, on a daily basis. But the hard thing – the “true north” – was going up to some strange girls and dancing with them. So, at that time, that was the thing I most needed to do.
Resistance doesn’t always point to the same “call or action” all of the time. This, I believe, is a common mistake most Artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, or craftsmen – generally, anybody who takes what they do seriously – make. We think that Resistance is only trying to stop us from doing our Art. But this is not true. Resistance can, and does, show up in each and every corner, from our diets to our personal lives. Usually, when we are doing well in one area, Resistance sneaks up on us and takes hold of another one behind our backs. Ever played that kid’s game where the woodchucks are popping up, and you have to keep punching them back down? It’s kind of like that.
So, this is a main difference – probably the difference – between the Artist and the Impresario. The Artist can afford to let other areas of his life go by the wayside, while he concentrates on his art, immersed in it, obsessed with it – think Van Gogh or Mozart. The Impresario can’t. His life is a constant balancing act, made up of all these “pockets”, of which his Art, while extremely important, is only one. The Impresario is always bouncing from one to the other in an elegant dance, because he knows that each area feeds into every other.
In the next blog, I’ll talk more about the differences between the traditional artist, and the new, more powerful Impresario – and I’ll take a closer look at some of what these “pockets” may be.
Any insights? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and thanks for reading.