So as a friend suggested a few weeks back, I picked up a copy of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The quote on the front of my copy is from Esquire magazine, and it states "A vital gem... a kick in the ass." If you're a writer, a musician, a playwright, a poet, or a filmmaker... get this book. If you're a teacher, a student, an accountant, a CEO, a baseball player... get this book. You know, just get this book no matter what you do, because everything in there applies to anyone who lives and breathes and dreams of the possibility of something better. Here's a passage that has gotten me thinking lately, and keeps me working on the children's book I'm writing while I have some time off.
Resistance feeds on fear. We experience Resistance as fear. But fear of what?
Fear of the consequences of following our hearts. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come crawling back to where we started. Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours. Fear of betraying our race, our 'hood, our homies. Fear of failure. Fear of being ridiculous. Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for. Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot reverse, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked-up choice for the rest of our lives. Fear of madness. Fear of insanity. Fear of death.
Those are serious fears. But they're not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that's so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don't believe it.
Fear That We Will Succeed.
That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess.
That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are.
This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face, because it ejects him at one go (he imagines) from all the tribal inclusions his psyche is wired for and has been for fifty million years.
We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it's true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.
We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to.
Of course this is exactly what happens. But here's the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look. And they're better friends, truer friends. And we're better and truer to them.
Do you believe me?