Resistance and Unhappiness

A doodle from December, 2012.  It’s one of my favorite unblocking tools.

Enter The Dragon

An artist, once she gets to her canvas, whatever form it takes – the musical instrument, her kitchen’s pots and pans, the blank page – may remain there for long hours on end.  It’s almost like she goes into a trance in the morning and doesn’t know that the sun has set already.  This is the gift of real creativity.  Here’s the thing though: getting the artist’s butt down on the chair is very tricky simply because there’s no time clock to punch time-in.  We procrastinate, we putter, we hyper-organize.  I know I do. I once de-cluttered my work space for a whole month justifying that I can’t work if there’s chaos around me.  After clearing the space, I still didn’t do any real work immediately until I finally talked myself into it.  Resistance is strong and real and very powerful especially during the cold, winter months, in my experience.

When the dragon of resistance comes breathing its fiery breath on me, I get scared into a corner and have to rally and cheer-lead and motivational self-talk myself out of it.  What if I don’t have the energy to do it?  Hello, Boss, are you there?  Sorry, nobody named Boss here is the reply I get.  You chose the No Boss life two decades ago, remember?  But, but, what am I going to do?

So I go to my heroes.  There are many, thank The Muses, and these are my go-to authors and speakers who speak about the whole experience of creating and resisting and climbing the mountain every single time.  Sometimes painstakingly but always, ALWAYS with exhilarating results.  Daily.

One such hero is Steven Pressfield.  This is what he says about the dragon ~

What does Resistance feel like?
First, unhappiness.  We feel like hell.  A low-grade misery pervades everything.  We’re bored, we’re restless.  We can’t get to satisfaction.  There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source.  We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party.  We feel unloved and unlovable.  We’re disgusted.  We hate our lives.  We hate ourselves.
Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable.  At this point vices kick in.  Dope, adultery, web surfing.
Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical.  Depression, aggression, dysfunction.  Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.
Sounds like life, I know.  It isn’t.  It’s Resistance.
What makes it tricky is that we live in a consumer culture that’s acutely aware of this unhappiness and has massed all its profit-seeking artillery to exploit it.  By selling us a product, a drug, a distraction.  John Lennon once wrote:
Well, you think you’re so clever
and classless and free
But you’re all fucking peasants
As far as I can see
As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls.  In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of consumer culture.  We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV, and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle.  We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.

If you’ll read just one book this year, 2013, make it The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield.  Trust me.  Life-flipping-changing. 😉

With gratitude to MissAshton for the typeset/text of the quote from the book on her blog.

Monster!

Meet My Monster

I die a little when I don’t get to share my creativity.  I know this about myself.  I suspect you feel this way about your own creativity, too.  Sometimes?  Often?  Never?!?  Are you even human?!!!  My monsters are relentless and loud and strong and they want to protect me.  There’s this one in particular who goes by the name of The PYS which is short for The Protective Yet Shaming Diva Monster who finally showed herself to me yesterday.  Here’s a quick sketch for you ~

The Conversation Between The PYS and I
Me:  Hello?  Hello…you in there.  Which monster are you that’s causing all this fear and blockage and doom?

It Who Hasn’t Been Named Nor Seen Yet: How dare you!  I’m the one that’s been protecting and caring for your welfare all this time and you don’t even know my name?  Shame on you!  (Man, she’s shrill.)
Me:  Ohh, k.  Ok.  Um…you’re The Protective Yet Shaming Diva Monster?  (I just made that up out of sheer panic.  But luckily for me…)
The PYS: You got it!  Ha.  Shame.  Shame!  So what’s this thing I hear you want to begin yet again.  All this after you’ve abandoned your blog for this long?  This….long!  After you’ve yet failed to keep
to your schedules and meticulously organized plans of making your offerings and things and…pshhaw!  

Psshaw and other monster words

Me:  Pshhaw?

The PYS: Pshhhhhhaw, indeed!
Me:  Sigh.  I know, I know.  I hear you.  And I am tempted to feel so shamed and get stuck and continue in this “safe” place of not doing.  But I…
The PYS:  But….not!  No buts!  Stop right there while you’re ahead. Stay.Safe.  You got it, girlie? S.a.f.e.  Now go and watch another show on Netflix or simply organize your workspace and that KatShots file alphabetically now.  Go, go, hop to it!  No more thinking…
Me:  (Amused)  Thank you.  I know you’re here to protect me but I’m fine.  Really.  There’s too much stuck-ness pain!  If I allow for this stuckness to continue, if I let Le Resistance win yet again, then I’ll be in real pain and so will my loved ones for how miserable I’ll be!
The PYS: WHAT?  What the heck are you talking about?!?  Aren’t you scared of the backlash?  The…the…the whiplash?!  You think I’m shrill?!? The tongue-lashing critics are out there!  The naysayers and the very ones that will say you’ve gotten all crrrrazy for talking to your(monster)self here!  Don’t even get me started with the “Wala Kang Magawa Ano?” Gang (Nothing to do, eh?) who hate artists because secretly, they want to make art but are simply too chickenshit scared to do so.
Me: Er, yes.  You’re right.  They are out there.  But I’m willing to ship in spite of them because I know there are more who will appreciate what I share with them and

The PYS: Nooo!  No, no, no.  Stay safe and let me protect you.  Don’t you want me to protect you?  *shudder-and-shake*
Me: (Man, The PYS is getting quite dramatic.) Thank you, PYS.  I really appreciate all this.  I’m good.  You can watch from your perch.  If I get hurt, you’ll be there and then you can protect me.  But we will continue with our creating, together and I promise not to attempt to kill you off anymore.  I know now that that’s nowhere possible.  Friends?
The PYS: Are you sure?  I don’t wanna die.  
Me:  We’re not gonna die.  Promise.
The PYS:  I don’t want to get hurt.
Me:  Now, that I can’t promise.  If you get hurt, I’ll be here with you and we can hurt together.  And we won’t die, that I pinky promise you.
The PYS:  I guess…you’re right.  In reality, I’ve known that all along.  It’s just that Jean, Gorgé, Pete and Reggie keep telling me lies and I hear them all day long and …
Me: Jean, George, Pete and Reggie?
The PYS: These damned creatures on my head!
The quick sketch ~
Me:  Haaaaaa!!!  My Monster has her own monsters!  No wonder we’re so stuck!!!  
And on and on it went for a while until I think them monsters got bored, thanfully, and fell sleep.
The Sun Will Come Out
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a post called Doodling For Moodling along with some of my favorite tricks on how to get myself creating and unblocked, every.day.
Do YOU have your very own monsters inside your head?  Heart?  Perched on your shoulder?  Would you be brave enough to name them and share them here with me?
Above post inspired by Seth Godin‘s The Icarus Deception and Brené Brown‘s Daring Greatly and to my fellow Inartestas who know and feel the daily battle with the dragon called Resistance.