Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.
War of Art on Resistance by Steven Pressfield
This quote came to mind during a client meeting this week. The client was a man in his early 40s and he was nursing many creative career ideas that had reality only in his ‘unlived life’. These included being a world-famous photographer and designing book covers. He yearned to stand on a global platform and experiment with creativity. His soul was “longing for the feeling of confidence, calm and freedom” it would bring.
Until now, he had not taken definite steps towards his dreams as he was riddled with fear of failure. He worried about how he would explain his creative dream to those around him. He dreaded the ‘Why?’ question; ‘Why would you do that?’, ‘Why would you set up a business in the middle of a recession?’
This man’s anxiety manifested in the form of breathlessness and white knuckles. He was pre-occupied with what could go wrong if he followed his dream; he worried about providing for his children in a difficult economic climate. Again, I was reminded me of Steven Pressfield’s key idea that ‘the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more the resistance’.
We looked at how he could form a team of supporters, mentors and cheerleaders for his creative business ideas. We looked at the idea of hanging out with collaborators and competitors and joining a business breakfast club. We all need people to encourage us and to spur us on. We need people to help us bust through the fear and resistance. This man’s entire being craved the buzz that went along with creative breakthroughs and a thriving creative business.
This session reminded me of a string of other sessions with young teens and adults who longed to follow a career in art, writing, drama and music. Huge resistance seems to accompany the unconventional creative career path, as the results and future are so unknown. When I was a teenager I got into an Art Course and spent a lot of time questioning whether or not I would be good enough to get ahead in the world of Art.
Adults and parents often dissuade young people from pursuing the creative path, highlighting how hard it is to get on the stage; to compete in Journalism; to get artwork recognised. Parents understandably want their children to thrive and not to struggle.
Once I met parents of a young Dublin girl who was making her college CAO choices. She really wanted to study Drama and Theatre Studies in Trinity College, Dublin. Her parents worried about whether she would be tough enough for such a ‘cut throat’ and unpredictable career. They loved their daughter and wanted the best for her. The girl wanted to spend her life on stage regardless of the risks and uncertainty involved.
Yes, the creative path is risky. The outcomes can be unknown. Yet when creative work gets recognised – when the band reaches the limelight or when the book gets published – the sense of celebration for the artist is immense.
Artists who experience success are role models for young people who dream of similar achievements. They carry the Olympic torch light for them! I have often heard young budding writers in North Dublin rave about the author, Cecelia Ahern, saying “Sure she only lived around the corner”, or, “She went to the school up the road”. In other words, she is one of us – “If she can do it, maybe we can do it too.”
We all have a creative spark within us but some of us have more of a desire than others to set that spark on fire!
One day I was layin’ down
I heard Papa talking to Mama
I heard Papa say, to let that boy boogie-woogie
‘Cause it’s in him and it’s got to come out”
Boogie Chillen, John Lee Hooker
In what way could you let your ‘boogie – woogie’ come out?
How could you light that creative spark within?