The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Pressfield wrote this in a Mark Manson storm-the-beaches style, eg.
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesnt write, a painter who doesnt paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.
... Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if thats what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.
The best advice from this is a novel restatement of "find your passion".
What are the qualities of a territory?
1) A territory provides sustenance. Runners know what a territory is. So do rock climbers and kayakers and yogis. Artists and entrepreneurs know what a territory is. The swimmer who towels off after finishing her laps feels a helluva lot better than the tired, cranky person who dove into the pool thirty minutes earlier.
2) A territory sustains us without any external input. A territory is a closed feedback loop. Our role is to put in effort and love; the territory absorbs this and gives it back to us in the form of well-being. When experts tell us that exercise (or any other effort-requiring activity) banishes depression, this is what they mean.
3) A territory can only be claimed alone. You can team with a partner, you can work out with a friend, but you only need yourself to soak up your territorys juice.
4) A territory can only be claimed by work. When Arnold Schwarzenegger hits the gym, hes on his own turf. But what made it his own are ! the hours and years of sweat he put in to claim it. A territory doesnt give, it gives back.
5) A territory returns exactly what you put in. Territories are fair. Every erg of energy you put in goes infallibly into your account. A territory never devalues. A territory never crashes. What you deposited, you get back, dollar-for-dollar. What's your territory?
This notion seems similar to a skill, ie. boot up on a skill (apprentice, journeyman, master) where mastery: a) can be both attained and unattainable, and b) should be something that can pay the bills. cf. Aaron Brown's view on poker where mastery gives one a life-long "worst-case" job, and cf. the anecdotal Armenian view that education is portable wealth, cf. bartending gigs supplementing the 9-to-5 job as bars need peak time help.
Also compare this to Tyler Cowen's personal moonshot where seemingly all his vocations and avocations work together to move him closer to his goals.
Resistances goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.
Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; its not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business
With four holes to go on the final day of the 2001 Masters (which Tiger went on to win, completing the all-four-majors-at-one-time Slam), some chucklehead in the gallery snapped a camera shutter at the top of Tigers backswing. Incredibly, Tiger was able to pull up in mid-swing and back off the shot. But that wasnt the amazing part. After looking daggers at the malefactor, Tiger recomposed himself, stepped back to the ball, and striped it 310 down the middle.Thats a professional. It is tough-mindedness at a level most of us cant comprehend, let alone emulate. But lets look more closely at what Tiger did, or rather what he didnt do.First, he didnt react reflexively. He didnt allow an act that by all rights should have provoked an automatic response of rage to actually produce that rage. He controlled his reaction. He governed his emotion.Second, he didnt take it personally. He could have perceived this shutterbugs act as a deliberate blow aimed at! him individually, with the intention of throwing him off his shot. He could have reacted with outrage or indignation or cast himself as a victim. He didnt.Third, he didnt take it as a sign of heavens malevolence. He could have experienced this bolt as the malice of the golfing gods, like a bad hop in baseball or a linesmans miscall in tennis. He could have groaned or sulked or surrendered mentally to this injustice, this interference, and used it as an excuse to fail. He didnt.What he did do was maintain his sovereignty over the moment. He understood that, no matter what blow had befallen him from an outside agency, he himself still had his job to do, the shot he needed to hit right here, right now. And he knew that it remained within his power to produce that shot.
Next morning I went over to Paul's for coffee and told him I had finished. Good for you, he said without looking up. Start the next one today.