There is a slim volume called The War of Art on my night table. It was written by Steven Pressfield, a book author and a former Marine. Pressman believes in past lives and the muse, which don’t strike me as very Marine-like beliefs, but what do I know. This guy knows so much about Resistance (his capitalization) I can hardly believe he’s finished one sentence of one book. Here are a few choice bits.
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.
Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.
The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:
1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture of enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3) Any diet or health regimen.
4) Any program of spiritual advancement.
5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
7) Education of every kind.
8) Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
This list goes on. It feels like a dirty secret. While all the good humans proceed through the day completing tasks and fulfilling their potential and achieving their goals, I’m having a tawdry affair with Resistance. We’re in a steamy clutch before breakfast. R begs me not to carry my coffee mug up to my office. Stay and read the business section, R implores. You don’t pay enough attention to financial issues. It’s true. R knows me well. Later in the morning, out of the blue, R reminds me that the bathtub is dangerous. It’s only a matter of time before someone slips and dies. R always remembers the important stuff. We hop in the car and drive to Bed Bath & Beyond, certain of the urgency of this errand. While we’re out, R suggests, why not make a quick stop at the consignment store to look for that small table you need? Sometimes R wants to take me to bed in the middle of the day. You’ll feel so much better afterwards, R explains. Rested. Able to focus. I know that R is a cad and a liar. I also know that R is not mine alone. R gets around. It’s time to break it off. But how?