“Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield

Cover for "Do the Work", by Stephen Pressfield
Van Gogh's "Man with Hoe" from the cover of Steven Pressfield's "Do the Work"

 

What is it about people who speak with “authority” that can be so inspirational?  (Who does that make you think of?)

Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog post about the metaphor of war as it related to prayer. Read it here.  I questioned whether war was the best frame through which to approach life.  I reasoned that if I approached the big relationships in my life as if I was constantly in a battle, the whole thing would be skewed in ways I wouldn’t like.

Enter Steven Pressfield.  A few weeks ago, I read his powerhouse book The War of Art.  (My previous blog posts about it here and here.) As I reported, it knocked me out of my chair, yelling at me to get to work.  Yesterday, my copy of another book of Pressfield’s, the follow-up to The War of Art, showed up on my doorstep.  Do The Work yelled at me again, and once again, I fell asleep with dreams of changing everything dancing in my head.

I keep thinking about that little off-hand prayer I tossed out a couple of months ago as I was standing in Barnes and Noble.  “Bring me a book.”

Anyway, back to the metaphor of war.  Remembering that I’ve never been crazy about the war metaphor, Pressfield’s assertion that “Resistance” is out to destroy us is compelling.  In Do The Work Pressfield goes so far as to equate “Resistance” with “evil”.   His idea that “Resistance” is “an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential” means that every time an idea for a project appears, if it is a good and noble idea, one that will demand the best of who you are, “Resistance” will answer that call, and seek not only to derail you, but to put you down permanently.   Then these little quotes on pages 59 and 60.

“There is an enemy.  There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us.”  

“It will kill you.  It will kill you like cancer.”  

“It’s aim is not to obstruct or to hamper or to impede. It’s aim is to kill. 

The big a-ha for me, which I think I knew but had not accepted, is this:  the war does not stop.  Ever.   And I turn to Romans 7, and find that Paul agrees.  “So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its ever-present demands.”   (Amplified Bible) This sounds very much like Pressfield’s idea that “Resistance” is elicited by the urge to do any great work.   To vow to “do the work” is to issue a call to arms not just to your own creative energy and spirit, but also to those forces marshalled against you.

Every day?

Every day.

From now on.

No wonder the line that Pressfield cites as the one that defines his life is:

“It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior’s life.”

I’m rethinking war as a frame for prayer…

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