We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.
When is the last time you had a new and interesting idea? Something that got you excited, if even just a little bit. More importantly when was the last time you took action on an interesting idea. I’m not sure most consider coming up with new and or exciting ideas something that they should even consider. At least beyond the humdrum mundane day to day living such as a new way to prepare broccoli.
In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes: “most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” He goes on to describe how simply living the life you desire, the “unlived” life for most will still be a battle ground for resistance. Even living your most desired life you will still face, struggles, conflict, hoards of questions, self doubt, and many, many mistakes. Simply put, life is hard. Or so it seems we make it hard.
I wonder at times if it was not for photography what I would be doing. How much of my life would I be spending trying to find something to give me pleasure or could help pass time in a pleasurable way. Or worse yet, doing something as mind numbing as setting in front of a television! I look around and notice the majority of people simply going through similar routines day in and day out. Most of these are not inherently wrong or bad, but they seem so uninteresting or at minimum lacking any type of inspiration. I have been told that what I do is uninteresting as well. So I guess it’s all kind of relative. Life is not a hobby that you get some pleasure from when you chose to do it or when time allows. There is no “part-time” life. You either participate fully or you don’t.
I encounter a good number of people who seem to go through life without thinking about why or what they should do with the short amount time we are given. I never seem to fit in well with them. This separation between yourself and others could be a problem if you let it become one. If you seek attention or approval of others for self satisfaction you open yourself up for tremendous disappointment when you don’t receive what you want. All this based on someone else’s actions and not your own. In others words, you want someone else to do your work for you.
For myself it took half a lifetime to learn the only true place I could find happiness is within my own mind and soul. That didn’t happen just because of my own personal life struggles though I’m sure they were a serious catalyst for it. It happened because I finally learned that ones future is literally in their own hands. Every day, day after day. You either show up and do your work or you don’t.
It’s not about spending a few hours here or there doing something you enjoy, but living in a purposeful manner because what you enjoy has become who you are.
Self Fulfillment vs Resistance
This past year has felt somewhat bland to me. It may just be in my mind, but you are what you think. I have been absent from this blog and my writing far more than I had wished. I have no excuses, at least none that would change that. The roller coaster of life is what it is. Some times the fires burn hot and sometimes they just smolder. The smoke from ongoing smoldering fires has been in my eyes too long. It is now bothersome. In other words, my lack of activity, creative output, and inspiration, has become more problematic than buckling down and doing the work. I (you) must never let resistance win. Never.
There is a tendency by many to not do work until they believe they can do it perfectly. I fight this urge myself. This is a tremendous source of resistance. Nothing will ever be perfect. At least for those who demand it. The stars will never align exactly the way you want. Waiting for the right time to do what needs to be done is just another excuse to do nothing instead of something.
Responsibilities of daily life are not free. The time needed to fulfill those responsibilities is real time. You can’t add time to your day because you need or want to get more done. I have taken a couple week long trips into the wilderness since October. Extended periods of solitude in nature is like a bubble bath for the mind and soul. A few new plans have already been put into motion. New print offerings will soon be showing up. New options that I am excited about being able to offer.
Resistance will always be part of a creators life. There will always be a reason to put something off. Not enough time, money, resources, support, and the list goes on. One thing is for sure. If you do nothing, nothing will change. Our lack of patience is a real problem when it comes to doing our work. That may sound rather conflicting. Why would being impatient keep us from doing something. Too many times I have seen or been part of a big project one that requires days even weeks of consistent dedicated work. What almost inevitably happens is we put off getting started. We don’t want to do just a little bit and stop. We want to get it all done as fast as possible. Not for any apparent reason, we just want it done once we start. So we put off starting as long as we can. Instead of chipping away at it hour by hour, or even minute by minute, we wait. We wait until we think we can get it done as quickly as possible. It almost never gets done sooner but most often later. Our lack of patience wouldn’t allow us to work on it for an hour then stop. So instead we do nothing. Patience or a lack there of, is nothing more than a big wall of resistance.
Changing of the seasons is always a good time to take note on how quickly life can pass us by. We may want to believe everything will stop and wait for us. Wait until we are ready to do our work. But life does not stop. Our dedication to our willingness to forge ahead must be relentless if our true desire is to move forward, find those things that bring a sense of well being and to make our time, however long or short it is worthy of the gift of life.
One step, one positive action towards your desires, dreams, and goals, is all it takes to get started. You will be that much closer to your own gift that awaits you.
Resistance Is Futile
Well written post, Brad. Been a while since I left you a comment, so don’t look too surprised. I still follow your blog and get notices when you have new posts up. This is a subject I’ve faced now for many years. The resistance has influenced too much of my life for too long. I like Pressfields book and his way of expressing resistance. Not sure when I came to realize that happiness, which is from the joy within, is not filled by all the external stuff/things. I seem to live life much better when I start my day with time in quiet listening to the Great Reality within, my source for joy and happiness. My favorite line is the last one, “One step, one positive action towards your desires, dreams, and goals, is all it takes to get started. You will be that much closer to your own gift that awaits you.”
I also want to let you know I am not able to make a two-finger scroll through your page with my Macbook Pro. It works on everything else. Strange.
Hey Monte good to hear from you. Nice to read you are familiar with Pressfield and his writings. I just read it for the second time a month or so ago and seemed to get more out of it this time. This has happened a couple times this year, reading a book for the second time I seem to find more helpful advice than from the first reading. Resistance has always been a big issue with me. In some odd way the simple step of putting a name and description on it as Pressfield so rightly does in The War of Art seems to help me understand it. And hopefully with understanding can come better or at least more consistent actions to combat it.
Hey thanks for the feedback on the two finger scrolling. Not sure what’s going on there. I am going to investigate this and maybe reach out to the theme designer and see if the Theme I am using has something to do with it.
Take care Monte. Happy Holidays to you and yours.