The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just Shut Up and Train

Below is an excerpt from an article from Steven Pressfield's blog. Mr. Pressfield often writes about the internal obstacles that prevent us from achieving our aspirations. This is the topic of one of his books, The War of Art.While he is specifically writing about writing, everything he has to say applies to any worthwhile endeavor, including martial arts training.


One of those obstacles is having to do something else first, or for conditions to be just right before we train. I know that I've been guilty of this. You come home from work late, so you blow off training instead of training later. You have to be somewhere, so rather than  shortening your workout, you blow it off altogether. You're "tired" or "not in the mood" or whatever. 


Just shut up and train. The Lenten Challenge has been a great exercise in getting over this twisted thinking. Below is an excerpt from the article. The whole thing may be read here. Enjoy.

Do It Anyway

By Steven Pressfield | Published: May 26, 2010

This is an important post. I say that because this piece addresses (after procrastination, which is the #1 champ), the single greatest excuse/reason/cop-out that prevents aspiring writers, artists and entrepreneurs from taking action to pursue their dreams.

That excuse is, “First I have to _____________.”
“___________” can be anything from “finish my research” to “pay the rent” to “get rid of my slacker boyfriend.” I’m not saying such excuses can’t be real or serious. “Stop drinking,” “get out of rehab,” “recover from suicide attempt.” They can be absolutely valid and true. But they’re still Resistance. They’re still bullshit.

Here’s the counter-mantra: “Do it anyway.”

Am I being overly hard-core to assert this? No. I’m being kind.

The surest antidote to the state of misery and paralysis that we find ourselves in when we’re under the spell of “First I have to _________” is to sit down and do our work anyway.

Tales from the trenches

This past year hasn’t been the worst of my life—but it’s right up there. I’ll skip the personal details because of the pain it might cause to people dear to me, but suffice it to say that my head, my heart and my butt have been swimming for their lives this past year. My artistic self-confidence, which has been bedrock for me for years, took a major hit about six months ago. I’m still not out of the woods. At the same time, outside commitments (most of which, to be honest, are voluntary and positive), family emergencies and other imperatives have whacked the hell out of my working time.

But here’s the weird part: my work has never been better. I’ve got three projects going, and they’re all hitting

on eight cylinders.  Yeah, it’s slow. Yes, it’s hard. But the stuff is good.

It’s saving my life. Certainly it has preserved my sanity.

In other words . . .

In other words: Do it anyway.

We don’t have to do anything else first. We don’t need to cure our neuroses, conquer our fears, overcome our bad habits. We don’t have to be sane; we don’t have to be solvent. We can be totally screwed up. None of these real-world troubles has anything to do with our creative selves.

The part of our psyches that we write from, or paint from, or conceive new entrepreneurial or philanthropic ventures from . . . that part exists in a wholly different dimension from the part of us that is mucking up our personal lives. There’s no connection. The twain don’t meet.  No matter how balled-up we may be in our outer world, our internal fortress of solitude remains waterproof, soundproof, bulletproof.

3 comments:

Matt said...

Great stuff. Both from a writing perspective and a training one the thoughts here definitely hit home for me.

walt said...

In some religious traditions, acedia is considered to be a major obstacle to progress. It is often defined as "sloth," but more accurately it is "spiritual laziness." Sort of the unwillingness to do what we should.

The odd thing is that we derive deep satisfaction -- which is pleasure -- from our various disciplines, but are often disorganized and fragmented in our approach. For some time now I have organized my life around my practice, and that's helped a lot; but I am fortunate in being able to do this.

One of the values of having a teacher is that we can "borrow their will" until such time that we can practice effectively solo.

Thanks, Rick!

Rick said...

Great insight. Thanks.