Baby Steps

I'm sailing! I sail! I'm a sailor!

“Growth is uncomfortable,” I often say, and what better time to walk my talk than these early months of 2011? Lately, my whole life is in a state of flux, from the creative (hello, country music and musical theatre!) to the personal (hello, wedding planning!). Sprawling, uncharted landscapes of expression and identity beckon, daring me to take chances, work harder, and expand my vision of what is possible. I find this metaphorical map-making energizing, but just as a sailor beginning a long voyage must recognize and respect the winds and currents that will shape his travels, I also must acknowledge the presence–and power–of resistance in my own journey.

Some days are better than others. Some days I feel powerful and motivated, zipping from an audition to the practice room to the gym with ease and enthusiasm. Other days, though, I feel mired in mediocrity and sloth, and I wind up sitting on the sofa watching Nigella Feasts, eating chocolate-covered almonds by the fistful. Resistance, you’re a wily bastard.

It’s been helpful, if challenging, to remember some fundamental truths concerning resistance: resistance is universal and impersonal, and resistance will–must–invariably arise whenever any individual undertakes a positive new endeavor. According to director Ann Bogart,

Resistance heightens and magnifies the effort…The magnitude of the resistances you choose to engage determine the progression and depth of your work. The larger the obstacles, the more you will transform in the effort…at the same time, be patient.

Put another way, when resistance feels insurmountable and overwhelming and we saddle up and do the work anyway, major transformation is imminent. In fact, resistance and the potential for transformation are in direct proportion to one another. The greater the resistance, the better we become.

The only thing tougher than beating resistance is heeding Bogart’s wise admonition to be patient. I mean, come ON! I’m doing auditions, I’m taking musical theatre classes, I’m going to the gym, I’m writing in my journal…so where the hell is my transformation, already? Sometimes I feel like Bob Wiley: I’m doin’ the work, I’m baby-steppin’, I’m not a slacker! Gimme, gimme! I need, I need!

The thing is, the more I look for transformation as I battle resistance, the stronger the resistance seems to become. When I stop relentlessly chasing results and instead focus on the work to be done today, I am reminded why I chose the word “faith” as my verbal talisman for 2011: I trust that all these “baby steps” are sure to lead somewhere, but in the meantime, the process, not the outcome, is where it’s at. For a few moments, resistance fades into the background. And in those moments, like Bob Wiley, I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.

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8 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. Love this post Hilary. I’m battling resistance too–Another word that comes to mind when I think about resistance is ‘vulnerability.’ Often I’m resisting hardest when I feel at my most tender and least confident. Eating chocolate covered almonds and watching Nigella sounds just fine to me in between your forrays into the world that can make us feel so vulnerable and so second-rate. I think it’s okay to cover up our heart sometimes, hide indoors and do something lazy while we wait for ourselves to get that spark of energy again–you know, the one that reminds us of the truth: that we are capable of great things.

    You just eat those almonds guilt-free and keep on! xo

    • Thank you, beauty! It’s a rough one, for sure…and you hit the nail on the HEAD: resistance strikes hardest when confidence is low & vulnerability is high. I’m looking forward to seeing you sometime soon, whenever that will be, and raising a glass to perseverance. (-: xo

    • Thank you! I love “What About Bob?”. Bill Murray is brilliant. I’m trying to find some humor in the resistance that’s hovering above all my creative endeavors right now. Thanks for reading, Amber!

  2. I completely feel ya on this one. I especially vibed with the part about how one day you’re doing the gym and rehearsing and taking care of business with relative ease & then the next, you’re banging down chocolate -covered almonds. “Mired in mediocrity and sloth.” Effing brilliant.

    • Hi, Katy! Good to hear from you…it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Moving forward does seem to happen in fits and starts, doesn’t it? I wish that improvement (musical, personal, and otherwise) could be a steady, measurable progression of events, but it seems like we take a step forward, two steps back, some days are great and others…well, pass the almonds. (-: Hang in there. I will, too. Thanks so much for reading & commenting.

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