“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” ~ Margaret Chittenden
I love that quote from novelist, Margaret Chittenden, and . There aren’t too many things that can happen to a writer worse than the feeling of an impending deadline closing in as he or she sits helplessly in front of a computer staring off into the abyss of lost ideas.
Been there! Done that! Not fun!
Granted, there are many worse things that can happen in life, but for the moment I’m talking about things that are associated strictly with the world of writing, not life in general.
But let’s switch gears, shall we? As we all know only too well, life has many a raw deal in store for us. It’s all part of this amazing gig called living. I’m not being negative or defeatist here – just truthful.
If you’ve never experienced pain, heartbreak, suffering or any of the myriad of other little goodies on the shelves of life’s vast grocery store, you will. Life happens. Plain and simple.
In his acclaimed book, "The War of Art," Steven Pressfield said, “There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't and the 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.”
This statement holds true not only for writers, but for anyone in any field and from any walk of life. When we step out to do something, to accomplish something in our life, we will have obstacles placed in our way; some from sources within and some from without. But rest assured Resistance is bent on keeping us from accomplishing whatever it is we may have set out to do – from reaching our goal!
Again, this applies to everyone! That means you! Whether you’re, a teacher, a laborer, a housewife, a mom or whatever; this is about you! No one is excluded.
I know there are those who are reading this and thinking, I know exactly what he’s talking about. That happens to me all the time. And there are those who think this is all a bunch of hocus pocus. For those on the hocus pocus side of the discussion, your unbelief is your obstacle; it’s Resistance; the thing that will keep you from personal growth; the thing that will keep you stuck in a rut of your own making.
Keep in mind that staying stuck in a rut is extremely counterproductive; in fact it’s downright suicidal. A rut is nothing more than a grave with the sides kicked out. Both the grave and the rut represent death; in the case of the rut it’s representative of the death of your life’s purpose.
There’s truth and wisdom in Friedrich Nietzsche’s oft-quoted assertion, That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Many who have weathered the wrath of life’s storms and the destruction that follows can attest to having come through their ordeal a stronger individual. That certainly doesn’t mean to say that there are no lingering scars or that the pain we endure doesn’t take a toll on us; but those things, as much as we’d like to avoid them, are the character builders of life; the things that mold us in our pain and our suffering; the things that ultimately make us who we are;
Just as a quick aside here, Nietzsche also said, “Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent,” but that’s a subject for another day and, more than likely, a topic I’ll leave to another columnist; someone braver and dumber than I. I have a fairly large female readership and I’m a lot of things, but self-destructive is not one of them.
That brief interlude was a way to let you off the hook for a second; to relieve the pressure of what many of us refuse to do – take a look at ourselves. But all good things must end so let’s jump back into the fire, shall we?
Psalm 23:4 says, in part, “….though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….” Please note something here that is of great significance. We are to walk through the valley. Nowhere does it tell us to stop, pitch a tent and set up camp in the midst of the valley. Nowhere! It says very specifically that we are to go through; to get our rear ends out of the valley. No encampments, no pity parties, and definitely no Occupy the Valley regardless of what Mayor Menino says!
But, of course, we think we know better. We find ourselves in a tough situation and decide we’re going to wallow in it. We dwell on it, feed it, take it to bed with us and spend our every waking moment nurturing it until it becomes the focal point of our existence. We’ve willingly crawled into the rut and now we’re trapped there waiting for the dirt to be thrown over us. Rather than controlling our circumstances, our circumstances are now controlling us. The &%#!@ has hit the proverbial fan and we all know what a mess that can be.
Any time we step out in faith to accomplish anything worthwhile, Resistance will rear its ugly head. Resistance may appear in the form of a spouse who isn’t supportive, a friend who continually reassures us that we will ultimately fail [we all know these people], or anything that will steer us away from our dreams or set up roadblocks between us and our goal.
Resistance may even come from within ourselves! As a matter of fact, we can more than likely count on the fact that will happen. We are our own worst enemies. As Walt Kelly’s memorable cartoon character, Pogo, said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Resistance most often manifests itself as the little voice inside our heads that graciously validates our vast, ever-growing list of excuses as to why we haven’t accomplished anything we’ve set out to do in our pathetic, mundane lives, and why we never will. It gives us every reason we would ever need to give up; to quit like we always do - because it’s too hard, or we don’t have the proper education, or we’re too tired, or whatever the excuse du jour may be. The list of excuses Resistance can conjure up are infinite – and deadly.
You’ll notice I’ve written Resistance with a capital R. That’s because Resistance is an entity, an unseen spiritual presence; a negative force bent on destroying our hopes and dreams.
If you’re a burgeoning author, Resistance may whisper, “You’ll never write a book! What makes you think you can write a book? Even if you write it, nobody will read it. Who would ever want to read your book?”
If you’re an artist, , a truck driver, , or a mom or a dad doing your best to raise a family, Resistance will whisper its deadly lies in your ear when you’re at your weakest point; when there are problems at your job; when the kids are acting out and you’re at your breaking point.
Don’t believe it? That’s Resistance!
Make it a great week!
Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, The Way I See It, runs every other Wednesday at Norton Patch and his column, "The View From Here", appears each Tuesday at Easton Patch and on Wednesday at Mansfield Patch.