Been reading the book “War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and it’s got my mind a BLAZIN’.
The book is AMAZING. If you are an artist, entrepreneur, and/or human being you need to read this book. It mostly applies to writers and creative types, but it’s really meant for ANYONE who is trying to better themselves, or push themselves to a higher level of existence through charitable works, going to the gym, starting a business, or you name it.
The first part of the book deals with what Steven Pressfield calls “resistance.” Anytime you make the intention to better yourself, or the world, resistance will come as sure as lightening to a rod.
Thanks to sunnibrown.com for this great graphic. Resistance is like the epitome of evil. And we’ve all felt it. It’s that voice in our head, or that twinge in our gut, that tells, threatens, cajoles, us to stop doing that great thing we’re setting out to do. “It’s not that important. It’ll hurt somebody, or you! It’ll make people jealous, or afraid, or inconvenience them, or me! Just put the pen down and watch one more episode of American Horror Story. We can save the world tomorrow.” Resistance has every tactic at its disposable. And it will use them without any regret or mercy.
Just put the pen down and watch one more episode of American Horror Story. We can save the world tomorrow.
BUT. What it cannot touch is our genius.
And here, too, we are introduced to a new definition of genius. Or, rather, a very OLD definition. In modern times we have come to think of genius as a type of person. Or a type of mind. It’s something that you either HAVE, or you DON’T. If you hvae it, if your IQ is high enough, then you must use your genius to change the world for good, and no problem should stand in your way. And if it does, then you must not be a genius.
The ancient Romans, and Greeks, had a decidely different take on genius. To them, it was something outside of ourselves. Genius was an animating spirit, a guide to lead us to our higher calling. A spirit to sit with us and do the writing, the sculpting, the acitivism, the painting, the business starting–through us. It wasn’t something we were born with. It was literally another consciousness that came and helped you as you needed it. The Greeks took it even further. They believed there were thousands of geniuses, or genii (like genie), that would come to your aid if you called for them. There was a genius for housekeeping, writing, sewing, governing, you name it! The hunt, the plow, the theatre, the kiss. It actually reminds me a lot of how Catholics view their saints. There’s a saint for lost objects, a saint for marriage, for work, etc. They probably got the idea from the Greeks.
Coming back to Resistance, our genius is our weapon against resistance. We just have to show up: at the page, the canvas, the family room, the board room–and our genius will step in and do the work with us. It will give us the inspiration, the next word, the next brush stroke–because it loves to create, and we are the body it creates through. Once we’ve begun, resistance loses its power. It’s like a ghost frantically trying to scare us away with every trick it has. But once we realize the ghost can’t actually hurt us, can’t touch us, then we are free. Not free forever–the ghost will always be there, in new forms, new disguises, with new tricks and treats to keep us from our work–but once we show up, and begin, it sulks off to whatever den it hides in, until the next day.
So think about your genius this week. When you want to go to the gym, or vote, or be better to your spouse, colleagues, or homeless people–feel the fear of resistance, and show up anyway. Your genius will do the rest.
Who is your genius? An angel? A muse? A loved one that has passed? Let us know in the comments! And good luck with your week.