War and the Missing Piece: Are You Ready (And I Mean Ready) To Rumble?


2014So here we are on the threshold of yet another new (and hopefully promising) year.

And I’m curious, how’d the last twelve months treat you?

Did they meet your expectations?

Did they exceed your wildest dreams? 

Was this past year the one in which all your hard work finally paid off?

Or was it, for lack of better description…life as usual?

KEEP ON TRUCKIN

Personally, in view of the many hardships folks have endured as of late I can’t complain. That’s not to say my family and I haven’t been sucker punched by this crazy economy a time or two ourselves.

I mean who’d of thought that after twenty-five years in the Title industry my wife would be laid off, placed on unemployment, land a sales job, only to be lured back into Title at half the pay and twice the commute?

Who’d of thought at the ripe old age of fifty-four I’d find myself working longer and harder than at any other time in my entire adult life?

But again, I know it could be worse—a lot worse.

For instance, I could’ve given up on my dream.

I could’ve called it quits, hung it up, or packed it in.

But I didn’t.

I haven’t.

And I won’t.

Why? Because right now that dream is the best thing I’ve got going.

Aside from that anathematized alarm clock perched within ear shout it’s the only thing that gets my butt outta bed every morning well before the break of dawn.

And right now a big part of that dream is to continue doing my damndest to craft one quality blog post each and every month. And while I’m proud to say that’s something I’ve done for over two years now, I still hear that spurning voice of my inner critic shouting…  

“Dude, one post per month, that’s it!? That’s all you’ve got!? To a real writer that ain’t worth the paper it’s written on.”

“To a real artist that ain’t worth the time it takes to dip a brush into the paint.

Sorry dude, but that just ain’t gonna cut it.”

In a beautifully written and powerful book, the War of Art, Steven Pressfield takes a long hard look at what is arguably one of the most pervasive and debilitating forces ever known to an artist’s psyche, potential, and overall productivity.

“Resistance,” he writes, “Is not a peripheral opponent. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.”

And I agree.

In part.

Why only in part?

Because I believe the battle grounds of an aspiring artist often extend well beyond his or her innermost self.

Resistance may indeed be the enemy within, but for many of us wannabes the daily battle rages on all around us, notoriously between the war-torn (aka wore-torn) hours of nine to five.  

That said I’d like to share with you a few words from the opening pages of the War of Art by Steven Pressfield (S.P.).

Followed by a respectful yet slightly contrasting portrayal from Yours Truly (Y.T.).  

“WHAT I DO” (S.P.)

I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I’ve got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer.

It’s about ten thirty now, I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there’s a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It’s three, three- thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome resistance.

WHAT I DO (Y.T.)

I get up, routinely between the hours of 3 and 4am. I brush my teeth and splash my downcast face with a handful of warming water. Breakfast? Two bananas and a Nature Valley granola bar. I never read the paper. I don’t have any phone calls to make because no one I care to speak with is up this damned early (besides I’m rarely at my best when dragging my ass off to work so no one’d wanna hear what I have to say anyway). I don’t drink coffee. I put on my high tops and snug up the fraying laces that Tony Hawk and company was kind enough to supply with the sneakers. I head eastbound about twenty-one miles to the truck yard, crank up the engine.

It’s about four thirty now, I grudgingly put her in gear and ease out the clutch. When I start running red lights and begin weaving back and forth from lane to lane I know I’m getting tired (just kidding). That’s ten hours or so. I’ve hit the point of physical and mental exhaustion. I wrap for the day. I fill out my paperwork, stash it in my shoulder bag and contemplate lighting the entire operation on fire so I don’t have to repeat this dreadful routine again tomorrow. I power down. It’s three, three-thirty. The workday is finally done. How much money have I earned? (Damn right I care). But I try not to think about it. Because all that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this slog session, I have once again overcome the tormenting resistance of walking away from my dutiful responsibilities and just saying, “F**k It!”

“WHAT I KNOW” (S.P.)

There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and that secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

WHAT I KNOW (Y.T.)

There’s a secret that many wannabe writers know that some real writers don’t. And that secret is this: It often is the writing part that’s hard. Now this may be a bit difficult to grasp for anyone who hasn’t been there or done that, but imagine if you can trying to get your creative juices flowing after spending the last dozen or so hours behind the wheel of an eighty thousand pound rig. In city traffic no less. Or, “hittin it with all you’ve got” when all you’ve got just went into trying to turn a buck. What’s hard is sitting down to write. Damn right! In fact I’ve found it all but impossible when you’re constantly trying to keep your head from slamming down on the desk because you’re dog-tired.

What keeps me from sitting down (and trying to stay awake) isn’t resistance…it’s freaking reality.

“THE UNLIVED LIFE” (S.P.)

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 quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on 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.   

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 mowed 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.

Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission.

Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront resistance? Does resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence? How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to do? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.

MY UNLIVED LIFE (Y.T.)

Once again I agree.

In part.

In large part because I am living the unlived life.

I have been for most of my life.

Thus, based on my many years of unsought experience, allow me to share with you another little so called secret:

Busting your butt at something you care little or nothing about day after day, week after week, and year after ^#&*% year will bury your ass as assuredly and if not long before resistance ever will.

Sure if by some stroke of magic tomorrow morning I didn’t have to wake up at 3am and spend the next ten hours behind the wheel things might be different.

But…

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s all about how bad ya want it.

I know it’s all about what you’re willing to give up to get it.

I’ve heard that song and dance many times over.

The thing is…it’s absolutely true.

HEAR HEAR

No matter how redundant or cliché it may sound, it really does comes back down to what you’re willing to do for it.

Like I say, I haven’t given up on my dreams, and I honestly doubt I ever will.

My personal battle cry is to simply carry on; to keep it up…to fight the good fight.

Could I fight and/or work harder still?

Yes.

Could I give even more time to my Everyday Hopes and Dreams?

I’m sure I could.

Call it Resistance. Call it reality. Call it whatever you like.

The truth is, like you, I too have my enemies; my demons.

But as an aspiring artist with a full time day gig I simply can’t subscribe to the idea that the sum of my formidable foes emanate solely from within.

I do however believe that whatever it takes to defeat em does. That it must.

And I for one with all my heart hope one day you find it. 

Because once you do, I believe you’ll at long last have found that missing piece.

The Pièce de Resistance if you will.

The one that could very well make this…your best year ever.

See ya on Feb 1st. Till then, keeep it up.  

 


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