The storm gathering around us isn’t always an illusion created by resistance. Sometimes we need to heed that strong hesitation we experience about our creative work, especially a specific creative project. Our wounded intuition can’t tell the difference between resistance meant to distract us so we don’t risk rejection and resistance actually meant to protect us from doing something we might regret or putting our energy into a project that’s simply not a good fit.
In the planning stages, this series of posts started out as an open letter to Steven Pressfield, the author of “The War of Art. ” Every time I thought about it the wall of resistance felt like an avalanche of boulders coming my way, but I chalked it up to resistance playing its usual tricks on my perception. Instead of exercising some compassion and letting my resistance have its voice, I barreled ahead with my hard-hat and handy boulder blaster. As a result, I ended up with some of my worst snarky writing – not something I would be proud to post.
If I had listened to my resistance, I would have still explored the feelings that Pressfield’s ideas triggered, but in the spirit of introspection that put the focus on me, why I was triggered, and what I needed to do to move past the triggers to what I really wanted to communicate: a compassionate way of dealing with and learning from our resistance. When I finally did sit down for a heart to heart with my resistance I found that, though I don’t agree with some of Pressfield’s views, the intense reaction I had to those views had nothing to do with Pressfield and everything to do with some old wounds to my creative expression that needed my attention.
The healing and clarity I gained from that realization led me into writing from my heart and not from a wounded and frightened place within myself that I hadn’t given adequate love and attention to. I do agree with Pressfield when he writes that we can get stuck in healing mode, a perpetual state of “I’ll get to my creative work as soon as I feel completely healed from x, y and z.” This year, I’ve discovered myself in just that mode; it’s a great place to hide and keep from taking any risks and kept me thinking of myself as a broken person. I had to move ahead with my creative work, wounds and all.
Healing takes place over the course of a lifetime, waiting would mean never creating and living our entire lives in the past tense – always looking back with little energy or motivation for right now or tomorrow. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t turn our attention to healing when those wounds throb. In my view, that’s part of the job of resistance. Whether it’s trying to distract us or it’s trying to give us a legitimate warning, opening up compassionate communication with that part of our psyche teaches us about ourselves and with that clarity we can make meaningful change. Healing doesn’t just belong in the realm of what’s commonly labeled our “personal life”, it’s impossible to heal any wound and have it only affect one part of our lives and not another. Everything is connected, my personal life is my creative life, my professional life, my political life, my spiritual life – it encompasses all of me. Each time I come to terms with anything that troubles me, most especially what shows up as resistance, my writing becomes freer. There’s more clarity, fewer places I’m afraid to explore, more authenticity – it adds up to less resistance; making war with resistance destroys that possibility.
Let’s make peace with our art, with the resistance that gets in the way, and instead of a narrow path fraught with danger we can find a wide path full of choices and insight. The wider path has its troubles, but the tools of peace lead to an increased motivation to create rather than turning creativity into a battle to endure.
I planned on other posts for this series, but I’ve found that the rest of the material I have fits with another project I’ll share with you next year. I hope you’ve found some benefit in what I’ve shared here.