Resistance and Unhappiness

A doodle from December, 2012.  It’s one of my favorite unblocking tools.

Enter The Dragon

An artist, once she gets to her canvas, whatever form it takes – the musical instrument, her kitchen’s pots and pans, the blank page – may remain there for long hours on end.  It’s almost like she goes into a trance in the morning and doesn’t know that the sun has set already.  This is the gift of real creativity.  Here’s the thing though: getting the artist’s butt down on the chair is very tricky simply because there’s no time clock to punch time-in.  We procrastinate, we putter, we hyper-organize.  I know I do. I once de-cluttered my work space for a whole month justifying that I can’t work if there’s chaos around me.  After clearing the space, I still didn’t do any real work immediately until I finally talked myself into it.  Resistance is strong and real and very powerful especially during the cold, winter months, in my experience.

When the dragon of resistance comes breathing its fiery breath on me, I get scared into a corner and have to rally and cheer-lead and motivational self-talk myself out of it.  What if I don’t have the energy to do it?  Hello, Boss, are you there?  Sorry, nobody named Boss here is the reply I get.  You chose the No Boss life two decades ago, remember?  But, but, what am I going to do?

So I go to my heroes.  There are many, thank The Muses, and these are my go-to authors and speakers who speak about the whole experience of creating and resisting and climbing the mountain every single time.  Sometimes painstakingly but always, ALWAYS with exhilarating results.  Daily.

One such hero is Steven Pressfield.  This is what he says about the dragon ~

What does Resistance feel like?
First, unhappiness.  We feel like hell.  A low-grade misery pervades everything.  We’re bored, we’re restless.  We can’t get to satisfaction.  There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source.  We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party.  We feel unloved and unlovable.  We’re disgusted.  We hate our lives.  We hate ourselves.
Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable.  At this point vices kick in.  Dope, adultery, web surfing.
Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical.  Depression, aggression, dysfunction.  Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.
Sounds like life, I know.  It isn’t.  It’s Resistance.
What makes it tricky is that we live in a consumer culture that’s acutely aware of this unhappiness and has massed all its profit-seeking artillery to exploit it.  By selling us a product, a drug, a distraction.  John Lennon once wrote:
Well, you think you’re so clever
and classless and free
But you’re all fucking peasants
As far as I can see
As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls.  In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of consumer culture.  We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV, and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle.  We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.

If you’ll read just one book this year, 2013, make it The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield.  Trust me.  Life-flipping-changing. 😉

With gratitude to MissAshton for the typeset/text of the quote from the book on her blog.

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