By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 17, 2010
Here’s a subtle but crucial point for us to hold in mind as we slog through the trench warfare of the artist’s journey, battling Resistance every step of the way.
Remember: Resistance arises second.
What comes first is the idea, the passion, the work we are so excited to create that it scares the shit out of us.
Resistance is the response of the frightened, petty, small-time ego to the brave, generous, magnificent impulse of the creative self. Resistance is the shadow cast by the innovative self’s sun.
What does this mean to us, as we duel our demons? It means that, before the dragon of Resistance reared its ugly head and breathed fire into our faces, there existed within us a force so potent and so life-affirming that it made Resistance freak out and load up the sulfur and brimstone. Resistance isn’t the towering, all-powerful monster before whom we quake in terror. Resistance is more like the pain-in-the-ass schoolteacher who won’t let us climb the tree in the playground.
But the urge to climb came first.
That urge is love. Love for the material, love for the work, love for our brothers and sisters to whom we will offer our best. In Greek, it’s eros. Life force. Dynamis, creative drive.
That mischievous tree-climbing scamp is our friend. She’s us, she’s our higher nature, our Self.
And she’s senior to Resistance. She outranks Resistance. She’s got more juice than Resistance.
When fear and self-sabotage threaten to get the best of me (which is plenty of times, believe me), I sometimes flash on Charles Lindbergh in his younger days, when he was struggling to find the backing for his solo transatlantic flight.
What massive Resistance must Lindy have faced, trying to get the Spirit of St. Louis off the ground. “You’re too young, you’re too inexperienced. You’re broke, you’ve got no credibility, you’ve got too many competitors. You’ll crash, you’ll drown. What you’re trying to do has never been done and never will be!”
Lindbergh wasn’t Lucky Lindy or the Lone Eagle then; he was just a gangly young mail pilot from Little Falls, Minnesota. He had to listen to those voices, not only in his own head, but he had to read them every morning in the newspaper and endure them shouted at him with conviction in meeting after meeting.
How in the world did he persevere in the teeth of that Resistance?
Lindbergh must have heard the scamp in his head too. She was the opposite of Resistance, and she carried more rank. “Holy cow,” that cheeky little daredevil told Lindy, “What if we could pull this stunt off? What if you could fly the Atlantic alone? Would that be the coolest thing in the world, or what?”
The opposite of fear is love–love of the challenge, love of the work, the pure joyous passion to take a shot at our dream and see if we can pull it off.