What is Resistance?

What is resistance?  Resistance is what keeps us from our creative work.  It can be our own undoing or outside forces that so affects us that we can’t do the work.

My husband and I have been singing at Mass together for a long time.  There was one particular incident that rattled me whenever I thought of it.

We were rehearsing at a particular Church one evening with two other members of our group.  The choir director (who had invited us to sing) came in to see if we needed anything.  There were speakers in the Church that connected to the rectory.  He said people in the rectory were commenting on the “lovely CD playing.”  That all changed come Sunday morning at Mass.

Our first mistake was using the Church’s sound system.  We usually bring our own.  The church’s system worked well during rehearsal, so we left ours at home.  It started acting up immediately after Mass began.

That would have been bad enough, but the atmosphere in the congregation began to change from one of welcome to something I can’t even begin to describe.  My daughter told me later that she could feel it in the air.

As I sang the Communion hymn, an older woman came right up to me (after receiving the Host), inches from my face, and yelled, “You’re too loud!”  I weakly smiled at her, but my knees started to buckle.

After Mass the critics converged on us and we were blamed for everything from the Church’s own sound system to our obvious lack of talent.  Only the priest (who knew us from another parish) complimented us.  I vaguely remember him saying something about our “always joyful music.”  It was a tiny dab of salve on a very painful wound.

We never went back.  To this day my husband and I sometimes talk about what happened.  Recently I read this:

The professional blows critics off.  He doesn’t even hear them.  Critics, he reminds himself, are the unwitting mouthpieces of Resistance and as such can be truly cunning and pernicious.  They can articulate in their reviews the same toxic venom that Resistance in our own minds, for which critics serve as unconscious spokespersons.

The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is:  the supreme compliment.  The critic hates most that which he would have done himself  if he had the guts. – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

This made me smile.  And to prove Steven Pressfields point, my husband told me about an incident that I wasn’t aware of.

We were singing at our regular parish and my husband said there was a man who came up to him after every Mass to berate one of our musicians.  Of course he bragged about this own skills on that particular instrument and how much better he was at playing it.

My husband got tired of the routine and finally said to him, “Come join us!  We could use you.”

The excuses began to flow.  “I haven’t played in a very long time, I don’t always come to this Mass because it’s not convenient, I can’t practice on the day you practice because I have to work,” and on, and on and on.  He still attended Mass (every week, of course), but he never  came up to my husband afterward again.  Talk about resistance!

Creative people, whether they are musicians, writers, photographers or artists, are the joy of this world.  We bring our uniqueness and light to a world that spins out of control.  It is our purpose in this life and our grace in the next.

Don’t let the people without any guts drag you down.  Don’t let Resistance hold you back from the creative person you were meant to be.

You can get Steven Pressfield’s book at Barnes & Noble here and from Amazon.com here.


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