Monday, January 03, 2011

all’s fair in love and war

Having received duplicates of a book I asked for this Christmas, I returned one and grabbed another book that has been on my list since my writing retreat last May, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. An easy (though convicting) read, I am already half-way through it and I began it yesterday. As I've not really had any time to read, I'm not sure how that happened.

It is one of those books that one should read several times, digesting bits and pieces in bite-size morsels, letting them swish around in your mouth a bit as you linger over the sensation. It is that good. As I am a compulsive eater, however, I tend to read in the same compulsive manner. I am gulping this book down in one fail swoop, and will consider it further much later as it digests.

A question arose, however, as I was reading, that I could just not leave alone, especially given my post from New Year's Morning. As Mr. Pressfield discussed the perils of resistance, with which I have been very familiar this past year, he lighted on a topic that jabbed a stick right into the very place I've been trying to reach. Unfortunately, he does not adequately scratch my itch.Mr. Pressfield is discussing the role of rationalization in resistance, and does, I might add, a very convincing job of it. Because resistance can't show itself in its true form (because we would recognize fear as resistance and thereby feel shamed into action), it must be crafty. Rationalization is one of its tools of the trade. "Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn't do our work." I buy this. Completely. I have even been caught by it, hook, line, and sinker. BUT.

Here is where I get a little conflicty.

What's particularly insidious about the rationalizations that Resistance presents to us is that a lot of them are true. They're legitimate… What resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly. Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace. Lance Armstrong had cancer and won the Tour de France three years and counting.

Great. Swell. Despite having children, they accomplished great feats. That's all well and good. BUT WHAT KIND OF FATHERS WERE THEY? (And, for that matter, didn't their children have MOTHERS to look after them? Not to mention probably nursemaids?!?!?)

THAT is the question penned below that last line on page 56 of The War of Art. THAT begs the question I cannot seem to answer for myself. THAT is what causes my spirit to churn and gurgle like an upset stomach when I'm faced with another afternoon of doing everything that must be done for everyone else. I can do what it takes to be a writer of the variety I would like to become. Certainly I know without a doubt I am capable. But at what cost? And to whom?

This is my issue. Competing desires. I want to be a good mother. I want to invest significantly and meaningfully into my children's lives. I want to be fully present and accounted for. AND.

I want to write. I want to go on another retreat and do nothing but write for six days on end. I want to write daily. I want to create and, in turn, be recreated. I want to live in this passion and be true to that which is within me. When I get up in the morning, when I go about my day, when I retire in the evening, THIS is what is on my mind: I want to write-sing-paint-draw-sew-bead-sculpt-meld-CREATE.

And I am having a bit of trouble trying to figure out a way to do BOTH without feeling I am failing woefully at it ALL.


Josh Wilson said...

Funny, I too am reading Art of War and had the exact same response to page 56. Every time I read about achieving or creating or what have you there seems to be little discussion about having balance. It's as though those engaged in making things have nothing else to do in their life but the making of things. Doesn't that seem a little off?

If that truly is the case, why are the value systems of living and creating at odds?

lorie said...

Well hey, Josh!

Ironic, to say the least, to be reading the same book and having the same response! Very interesting...

You raise some great questions--I plan to think on them a little and respond. But somehow, after working 12 hours and having world war three with my daughter, I'm just not up for it tonight. (:))

Checked out your blog AND your "running project." Very cool stuff. Can't wait to read more!