“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.