Steven Pressfield gives his own personal insight and advice in The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. I first heard about this book when I was out for coffee with a friend and I snuck a peak at a friend’s book while she was in the bathroom. I could tell that this book was important to her because it was full of notes and highlighted sections. Now that I’ve read it, I feel like I’m about to do the same. Pressfield has something to say to everyone who lets fear and resistance hold them back.
Resistance. For Pressfield, “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work” (Pg 7). Throughout the book, Pressfield continually defines Resistance; he looks at it’s different forms and how we react to it. Resistance is powerful and is a life changer.
I know that I give Resistance a lot of power and influence in my own life. There are a lot of things I would like to try and explore, yet I allow Resistance to hold me back from listening to the Spirit in my own life. Just think of all of the things Resistance has destroyed. It’s staggering.
My Mom lent me a book that talks about anxiety and I found some of the ideas really interesting and helpful. In the book, the author suggests that people write down their anxieties and put them into a box. Every month or so, open the box and throw out the anxieties that no longer matter and keep the ones that still produce that Resistance. It’s not entirely out of sight, out of mind, but I feel like this technique looks at the anxiety or worry, and moves beyond it while keeping it away from all positive things. I like that idea. It doesn’t allow the anxiety a place to live in the soul. It lives in a box.
On a trip to an independent bookstore in Edmonton, I stumbled upon a local poet who wrote a book of poems for meditation as an invitation to prayer. To rid the body of Resistance, meditation moves beyond the Resistance and focuses on the positive. My favourite poem so far is this:
Release your grip
on this wheelbarrow
Watch it roll away as you lift off
Free at last
(Antoinette Voute Roeder)
Free at last! Yes! Pressfield doesn’t just describe Resistance; he also shows ways to combat Resistance. It is the war of art! The war to allow yourself to explore and create without the dehabilitating effect of Resistance.
In the final section of his book, Pressfield explores what happens after Resistance is beat. He looks at what happens beyond Resistance. Imagine a world where we noticed the fear of reject or failure, recognized it, overcame it, and then went on to accomplish something amazing. Something like writing a note of encourage. Like painting the chairs green. Like drawing the flowers we see in the garden. Like opening that business. Like writing that novel. Like finishing that painting. To end, Pressfield makes these remarks: “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got” (Pg 165).
Pressfield’s book isn’t just for artists or creative people. It is an exploration of the human spirit and what can happen when we listen to that still, small voice over Resistance. Living a full life is not easy. And as Pressfield explores, living a full life is hard work. In fact, it is war!
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” (Steven Pressfield)
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)