The Squirrels of Resistance
Yesterday, after refilling our bird feeder, I watched and waited for the first squirrel to appear so I could run him off. It’s an inevitable part of the process, even if we toss extra seed on the ground for the squirrels. A squirrel squirrels his way up to the feeder and feasts on what is not meant for him.
Eventually, he tired of being run off and gave up. Immediately, the birds returned, their colors, twitterings, and flitting the reward for my diligence.
As I stood there watching chickadees and finches come and go, I realized how similar this seemingly simple scene is to the craft of writing and the inevitable frustrations and doubts that crop up daily in the life of a writer (or anyone with a dream).
Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls these kinds of obstacles the Resistance. The Resistance is like the unrelenting squirrels who stake out our bird feeder and try to steal what is not theirs. Left alone, the squirrels will move on, but only after they’ve had their fill.
Friends, we cannot let Resistance win. Resistance steals the beauty the world craves and we cannot let it do that. Yes, Resistance, like my squirrels, will come and go, but we can take an active part in defeating it rather than waiting for it to relent.
As Pressfield says, “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
Did you catch that? Nothing else matters except showing up every day and doing the work. We cannot wait for inspiration to strike or for our circumstances to change or for our kids to grow up or for our finances to get better. These are excuses. These are giving in to the Resistance.
These are things I battle daily as soon as the thought of writing enters my mind. My desire to write is like the seed that fills our bird feeder; it instantly attracts the squirrels of Resistance who want to feast on what is not meant for them.
In these moments, I force myself to show up. For me, that means opening my laptop and opening a current project, like Rewriting Destiny, or opening a blank document and putting on a favorite playlist of music that runs between 10 to 15 minutes and freewriting (no backspacing, no stopping, only words pouring onto the page).
Sometimes, it means going old school, and picking up a pen and my writing notebook and writing where I am — whether that is at home or waiting for one of my girls at a therapy appointment. Headphones, playlist, pen moving across the page.
Every stroke of the pen or keyboard is running off the squirrels and making room for the beauty of the birds. The beauty our world and our souls need. Art and dreams are resilient, but they need us to do our part. Art and dreams need us to show up.
How will you make time and show up for your dream or passion today? I’d love to hear what happens with your dream when you choose to chase off the squirrels of Resistance.
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Originally published at judithheaney.com on June 16, 2017.