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When we are succeeding - that is, when we have begun to overcome our self-doubt and self-sabotage, when we are advancing in our craft and evolving to a higher level - that's when panic strikes. When we experience panic, it means that we're about to cross a threshold. We're poised on the doorstep of a higher plane.
Writers think in metaphors. Editors work in metaphors. A great reader reads in metaphors. All are continually asking, "What does this represent? What does it stand for?" They are trying to take everything one level deeper. When they get to that level, they will try to go deeper again.
Resistance in my experience always kicks in when you're trying to move from a lower level to a higher level or to identify with a braver part of yourself or your higher nature. So it's that negative repelling force. It's kind of the dragon that we have to slay every day if we're artists or entrepreneurs.
That's why an artist must be a warrior and, like all warriors, artists over time acquire modesty and humility. They may, some of them, conduct themselves flamboyantly in public. But alone with the work they are chaste and humble. They know they are not the source of the creations they bring into being. They only facilitate. They carry. They are the willing and skilled instruments of the gods and goddesses they serve.
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You and I may only be mortals, with all the foolishness and fallibility that that state implies, but we're mortals made in the image of heaven. The gods can't do their work without us. So let's be bold, in their cause and in our own. It's our job, we humans, to make manifest that which is unmanifest-and to raise into consciousness, in this material dimension, that which had been known before only in heaven.
The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. Why is this important? Because when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set in motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose.
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Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.
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Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North--meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
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The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.
In my younger days dodging the draft, I somehow wound up in the Marine Corps. There's a myth that Marine training turns baby-faced recruits into bloodthirsty killers. Trust me, the Marine Corps is not that efficient. What it does teach, however, is a lot more useful. The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. This is invaluable for an artist. Marines love to be miserable. Marines derive a perverse satisfaction in having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys, or flyboys, all of whom they despise. Why? Because these candy-asses don't know how to be miserable. The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell." Page 68
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You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study... Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I'll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
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I wouldn't say 'art' as much as 'virtue, ' in the ancient Greek sense of 'andreia' - manly action - or 'arete, ' excellence. In my experience, Resistance kicks in any time we try to move ourselves from a lower plane to a higher. In other words, when we try to align with the better parts of our nature. This move can be creative (art) or physical (athletics) or it can be ethical, moral or spiritual. Have you ever tried to meditate? I have and it kicks my butt every time. Spiritual stuff is hard! But so is making 'cold calls' if you're opening a new business. Somehow the principle is the same. We're trying to overcome our natural laziness, selfishness, sloppiness, etc. So I wouldn't say 'art, ' I'd say 'virtue.
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Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North - meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.