The Woodchuck Game

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 piersonkeatingmusic@gmail.com, and thanks for reading.

Daily Blogging: Dream or Discipline?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “impresario,” and what that means in today’s culture of web 2.0, social media, and hyper-connectivity. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, an “impresario” originally meant, simply, someone who organizes, and sometimes funds, operas. The guy who really took that term and brought it back into popular consciousness is Seth Godin, known widely as the most popular marketing guru, well, of this century (so far). Mr. Godin is one of my favorite authors and fountains of wisdom, and I derive a lot of my attitudes and ideologies from him. (His book Tribes is a must read.)

In any event, I was driving along, really feeling quite bored, as I tend to do on long drives, and decided to search for “seth godin impresarios” on YouTube. The first result that came up was an episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast, where he interviews Mr. Godin. Of course, I ate it up. I am sure that a series of re-listens will be in order for this one, but the biggest thing I got out of it was actually Seth’s dedication to daily blogging, and his view that anyone with a blog should be similarly dedicated. Seth’s words:

Everyone should blog, even if it’s not under their own name, every single day. If you are in public, making predictions and noticing things, your life gets better, because you find a discipline that can’t help but benefit you.

This got my wheels going a bit – huh? Every single day? C’mon, Seth, do you actually see that as attainable? I mean, obviously, it’s attainable for you, but what about the rest of us? But then I realized: Wait a second! What if, just what if, I were to actually start blogging every day?

The power of this question was, and is, seductive to me. I love to write, and I love to blog. I believe in blogging because it provides a forum where someone who’s “making predictions and noticing things” can bring his ideas into consciousness – without having to publish an entire book. Of course, we can still write books, but why hold off?

Things like “Thirty Day Challenges” rarely work for me. One of the ironic dilemmas I face as someone who really believes in the act of blogging is that I may not always be in line, twenty-four hours later, with the values, or the desires, or the convictions, I put my forth in any given blog post. This being the case, I will simply ask the question,

“Boy, how cool would it be if I were to write a blog post every day?”

Why would I write a blog post every day? How would such a practice serve me? More importantly, how would it serve you, the reader? These are all questions worth asking. After all, doing anything every day is a Big Life Decision – actually, it’s a decision that has to be made repeatedly, every twenty-four hours. In Stephen Pressfield’s War of Art, he unceasingly drives home the conviction that the true artist, or, “professional,” shows up “seven days a week.” This is the central tenet of Seth Godin’s Impresario. Godin talks about the Impresario as being the next, higher level from the Entrepreneur because the Impresario really is an Artist at heart – somebody who’s not afraid to put himself and his ideas out there, day after day.

Probably the biggest reason I’m inspired to start blogging daily is because I have so many ideas about this Impresario and what he or she could mean for the world. For me personally, Artistry extends so far beyond just the Art, and this has becoming increasingly obvious to me in recent years. Blogging daily would, for me, be a way to consolidate my ideas, in a much more organized, trackable, chronological way. It would allow me to explore even further the implications of the Impresario, and to allow such explorations to be made public, so readers like you could follow the trajectory and offer outside experience. And it would, hopefully, offer value to the growing litany of resources and conversations about the Impresario.

The subject of Impresarios is so breathtakingly huge and has so many implications in virtually every area of modern life, that I feel a responsibility to explore it in some capacity. Blogging about it every day could be just one way to start to explore this New World. But do I have it in me to be a Daily Blogger? I guess we’ll see tomorrow.

If any of my emotionally-charged musings provoke a desire to interact with me, the best way to do that is to send an email to piersonkeatingmusic@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!