This past December, at the end of the month and the end of the year, I left my part-time job. I wanted to put my energy and focus on my own business. One part of my plan was to get out to walk and then go to the library to write. I was going to do this at least once a week. Sounded heavenly.
Well, life had other plans. Now, several months have passed. Things are settling into a new normal. Oh, yeah. I was going to get out and walk and go to the library to write. As appealing as the plan was in the planning stage something was causing resistance here in the execution stage.
I can probably guess at some things that prompted that nasty gremlin to show up. (Enjoying a walk isn’t work… Creativity is for leisure time…Stay safe at your desk and feel like you’re “working”…) Whatever the reason, there he was. Aha! It’s you! I had remembered and he had appeared. So I put writing on my iPhone calendar. I procrastinated. (Resistance, yes?) Then I did some writing at home. Last week I made it to the library. I was going to walk but I dilly dallied enough so I only had time for the library.
Yesterday I remembered again. It was sunny and breezy, a little chilly. Despite a little dawdling I got out and walked. I was determined to go even if it was for just fifteen minutes. Bliss! I explored a new trail. The bluest sky beckoned and admired itself in the pond. The wind teased ripples onto the water’s surface. The woodland floor was soft with old leaves. Someone had placed small logs alongside a big fat fallen tree trunk to help me scramble over it. Birds busied themselves amid leaves not quite the green of summer. I was ecstatic. Could this really be part of a workday? Could someone please give me a new word for a productive activity that moves an idea or purpose forward?
I'd worked on a free-writing exercise earlier in the morning from #KriswithaK’s 30 day writing challenge. The exercise was to compare the two ideas of freedom and resistance. Although I originally packed a different small question to take on my walk, thoughts of resistance and freedom chattered alongside me.
"What you resist persists.”- Carl Jung
That old chestnut had come up in a recent conversation so it too came along.
Could surrendering to resistance bring freedom? Just getting out there. Even if not as early as planned. Even if not for as long. Even if I was sure other things on my desk were more urgent. Just doing it imperfectly.
That became my small question as I tramped through the woods.
What’s behind resistance? I think it can be distilled down to fear. Fear in all its guises. Fear of being seen as less than perfect. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of a misplaced comma or a missed opportunity for a semi-colon. Whatever your fear du jour is.
I would not think less of you, dear reader, for any of this. I would appreciate your small imperfections because otherwise you would be quite bland. I would accept you with my whole heart. What you might feel is foolish I would see as wise. And, seriously, I can get into the rhythm of your writing in spite of a missing comma or semi-colon.
So why don’t I turn that understanding around and direct it at myself? Why do I give resistance air time? And where is the freedom? The freedom to listen to my heart? Part of my plan when I left my part-time job was to link arms with other journeying souls and help them surrender to what is – not what isn’t or should or shouldn’t be. To listen to what is calling them in their next phase of life and surrender to the freedom of listening. I recognized that I needed to do the same for me.
We all come up against the gremlin of resistance. He’s right across the room now, perched on the arm of the futon. Yesterday he was striking a languid pose against the door frame. Sulky, pouty, sexy. Anything for attention. He tried to come along on my walk yesterday but I got him to stay in the car. I asked him what it was he really wanted. I just want to keep you safe, he said. Well, that’s a load of crap I responded. Your idea of safe hasn’t worked very well for the past fifty years. Later he was playing hide and seek among the aisles of books here in the library. Aye yi yi!
A few thoughts on dealing with resistance:
Kathy Kane blogs about the creative process in the everyday, in writing and in the magical transition to the second half of life.
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