So Inspired by “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield
Have I mentioned to you all that, in addition to sewing, I love to read? Well, I do, and I have a particular genre that is my go to. I very rarely read fiction, though occasionally I love to get lost in a good story. But, for the most part, my reading genre is non-fiction, and my go to of choice are books about life and how we live it well.
I'm grateful I can do two things I love at one time – sew and read (or, in this case be read to) – thanks Audible! Anyway, I've read so many good books that have inspired me and changed our lives for the better, and that I've wanted to share with you! So, I'm starting a new category called "So Inspired", where I'll share a little about the books that have inspired me (and probably some documentaries, too ;)!
I can think of no better book to start with than "The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle", by Steven Pressfield. The book is about much more than creativity. In fact, I think it would be better titled "The War of Trying To Do Anything Good With Your Life." Do you have something on your heart that you really want to do with your life, but you never seem to get around to doing it? Is there anything that you think you really need to do or believe in your heart of hearts you should do, but you don't do it? If so, I think you'll really like this book.
Let me just say, I LOVED IT! I've listened to it several times! It is short (less than three hours on Audbile), but it packs a powerful punch! It is a no holds barred, in your face, shot to the heart – reminding you that you have a purpose in life, a gift to share with the world – and, well, you best get to it.
Pressfield explains, in part one, that any time we try to create something or to operate on a higher plane, we will meet with a force he calls RESISTANCE! Resistance is born out of fear (and self-doubt), and Pressfield details the symptoms of resistance ("unhappiness, low grade misery, we feel like hell, we're bored, restless, and we can't get no satisfaction."), and goes on to explain how it manifests! You can read the book for more, but the culprits I most personally recognized were procrastination, distractions, and rationalizations –uuggghhh – my capacity to rationalize is off the chartsl. You see, we all have two lives: 1) the life we actually live; and 2) the life we dream of living. What stands in between, Pressfield argues, is resistance!
In part two, he talks about turning Pro (i.e. beating resistance)! And, this section reminded me of Picasso's famous quote – "Inspiration finds you working". We must beat resistance at its own game. We beat it by doing one thing, and one thing only – doing our work!
Finally, in part three, Pressfield explains that there is also (thankfully) a counter-force to resistance, an energy that comes to our aid when we try to operate on a higher level in life or when we attempt to create. He refers to these counter-forces as talent, angels and muses, and goes into detail about how we can align ourselves with and get in touch with the counter-forces that come to our assistance! Courage and humility in the face of resistance call forth these forces ;).
There were so many interesting things in this book, but here are a few that I found particularly noteworthy, and am still ruminating on:
1. Tom Laughlin's work with cancer patients (i.e. helping them to follow their lost dreams, and many of them having their cancer go into remission) – isn't that fascinating?
2. The Latin root of the word "amateur" is love. The prevailing theory on this being that we love a craft so much, that we cannot bear to profane it with trying to make money at it. Pressfield disagrees with this, saying that amateurs don't love the thing enough – if they did, they would make it their profession. I'm still up in the air on this one – what do you all think?
3. He quotes Socrates – "The truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self- mastery, while those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them." Hmmm???!!!
4. Fear and self-doubt are not all bad. They are also a barometer of how deeply you believe in and care about whatever call of the heart you are resisting, and the level of resistance is an indicator of "how important doing your work is to the evolution of your soul." Shwew – now, that's good news ;)!
5. I found myself wanting to argue with him on many points 1) I'm a wife and mother and grandmother, and that requires a delicate balance, 2) we all have several gifts to give, not just one and depending on the time, one gift may take precedence over another 3) waiting and patience are a good thing, and leaping before you look can be a bad thing, 4) there are times in the week and month, and seasons in life when we need to rest, rejuvenate, take a break from our labors, find clarity . . . . I imagine if I got to talk with Pressfield about these things, he'd say, "Kelly, that's resistance. ***See resistance tactics I found familiar above (rationalization). The jury is still out for me on these, because in all honesty, I think I'm right, yet I also agree with Pressfield that these can, and have in my own personal life, taken the form of resistance.
I truly love this book, it's inspiring in so many ways! In fact, I credit this post to Pressfield and his book, "The War of Art!" Because, you see, resistance says this should be just a fun, upbeat, cutesy, sewing, cooking, isn't life grand blog – I mean who wants to talk about the unpleasant stuff of life. But, my heart screams – NO! Life is hard, and we are all suffering in one way or another, we all grapple with many of the same issues, and, while it's a good thing to share fun and sewing, it's equally important to have real conversations, to share our challenges and struggles, and the wisdom we're gaining and the steps we're taking to address those things! And, sharing about this bigger topic of life and its challenges must be pretty damn important to my soul's evolution, because I've met an incredible amount of resistance (over more than a year) just to get started by writing this first post! And, I think the resistance for me in this is huge precisely because there is something that I love and care about very deeply, and its people, our joys and our struggles, and how we can cultivate better health, more happiness, and a greater sense of wholeness in our lives. I spend far more hours in a given week thinking, reading, and applying what I've learned about how to live well then I ever could sewing ;)! Don't get me wrong, sewing is part of living well for me, too (so there will still be lots of that here), but, I'll also be sharing more posts like this one – about the challenges we face and things I've found helpful and inspiring along the way!
P.S. HA! Pressfield would be proud. I beat resistance – at least for today ;)!!!
P.S.S. Not that there is anything wrong with blogs focused on fun and sewing! They are an inspiration to me, I follow many of them, and I love them, and am grateful for them! The importance of inspiring creativity and making beautiful things cannot be overstated. We all have different things we are passionate about and unique combos of gifts to share - that's what makes this world such an amazing place to live in ;)!!!
Thank you so much for this post! Just this week I *finally* started a blog that I have been thinking about starting for almost a year! My reasons for not doing so were all of those mentioned above; fear of failure being the top of the list. This post was a literal answer to prayer, especially as now that I have actually started the blog, I am a bit overwhelmed by the whole wordpress start up details. (So far I have one post up and my title and logo—that's it! :-) )
I will be finding this book on Audible!
Posted by: LaDawn Dalley | 04/20/2017 at 09:02 AM
Thank you for beating the resistance and starting this new life topic. I am definitely sharing this with my 22 year old grandson who is an awesome musician. Life is hard and fragile. You will be contributing to the health and wholeness of many.
Posted by: Sandy | 04/21/2017 at 08:22 PM