By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 29, 2011
Thank you for all the comments and e-mails that followed last week’s What It Takes post. I’ve spent the past week thinking about what I wrote, why I wrote it, and how I feel about the responses.
Seth Godin mentioned that Steve’s books are gifts. I agree. Change up the old Hair Club for Men line, to: I don’t just work with Steve, but I’m a fan, too. (more…)
By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 27, 2011
I’ve been on the road for the past three weeks. That’s never good for me. Though I’ve seen a bunch of friends I wanted to see and done a lot of stuff that needed to be done, I find myself (right now in the United lounge at JFK) flagging and faltering. I can’t work when I’m traveling. The toll it takes is on my spirit. Unworthy thoughts pile up, unalleviated by worthy ones.
The lounge at JFK
I don’t know about you but when I wake up in the morning, all kinds of incendiary crap is rolling around in my head. Grievances, complaints, bitching to myself. I work myself into a lather over perceived slights and imagined injustices. I just got an e-mail this morning, out of the blue, from a guy who wants me to send him 30 copies of War of Art for free. Should I waste even one milli-second of my time thinking about this? But instead it’s rattling around in my brain like a ball bearing in a pinball machine. Why? Because I’m not working.
I’ve been taking classes back home in Mussar (pronounced moo-SAHR), the code of ethics and spiritual discipline developed by the Kabbalistic rabbis in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The teacher is Rabbi Mordecai Finley. He talks a lot about “the upper realm” and “the lower realm.” The upper realm is our higher nature, spirit/heaven/”neshama”/the soul. The lower realm is that ball bearing clattering around in my skull.
I wake up in the lower realm. That seems to be my default setting. I have to claw my way out of it. Here are the ways that work for me: love, physical exercise, service, generosity or kindness to others. And work. (more…)
By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 25, 2011
E.B. Sledge was a Marine mortarman on Peleliu and Okinawa in WWII. His first-person memoir, With The Old Breed (that he reconstructed from notes scribbled in a New Testament he carried with him throughout the fighting), stands with the very best combat narratives not just from World War II, but from any war in history.
Sledge originally intended "With the Old Breed" only for the eyes of his own family
Ken Burns (who drew extensively from Sledge’s text for his celebrated PBS documentary, The War) wrote, ” … in all the literature of the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir. This is the real deal, the real war; unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war.”
Here, selected almost at random (since the book is so packed with gripping material), are several representative passages, not for the squeamish, from the pen of this enlisted infantryman of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division:
The amtrac rattling toward us by this time was certainly a most welcome sight. As it pulled into position, several more Japanese raced from the pillbox in a tight group. Some held their bayoneted rifles in both hands, but some of them carried their rifles in one hand and held up their pants with the other. I had overcome my initial surprise and joined the others and the amtrac machine fun in firing away at them. They tumbled over the hot coral in a forlorn tangle of bare legs, falling rifles and rolling helmets. We felt no pity for them but exulted over their fate. We had been shot at and shelled too much and had lost too many friends to have compassion for the enemy when we had him cornered …
The amtrac’s 75mm cannon proceeds to blow apart the pillbox from which the Japanese soldiers had sprinted.
Someone remarked that even if the fragments hadn’t killed those inside, the concussion surely had. But even before the dust had settled, I saw a Japanese soldier appear at the blasted opening. He was grim determination personified as he drew back his arm to throw a grenade at us. (more…)