The Squirrels of Resistance

photo by my friend and fellow writer, David Bouchard

Yesterday, after refilling our bird feeder, I watched and waited for the first squirrel to appear so I could run him off. It’s an inevitable part of the process, even if we toss extra seed on the ground for the squirrels. A squirrel squirrels his way up to the feeder and feasts on what is not meant for him.

Eventually, he tired of being run off and gave up. Immediately, the birds returned, their colors, twitterings, and flitting the reward for my diligence.

As I stood there watching chickadees and finches come and go, I realized how similar this seemingly simple scene is to the craft of writing and the inevitable frustrations and doubts that crop up daily in the life of a writer (or anyone with a dream).

Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls these kinds of obstacles the Resistance. The Resistance is like the unrelenting squirrels who stake out our bird feeder and try to steal what is not theirs. Left alone, the squirrels will move on, but only after they’ve had their fill.

Friends, we cannot let Resistance win. Resistance steals the beauty the world craves and we cannot let it do that. Yes, Resistance, like my squirrels, will come and go, but we can take an active part in defeating it rather than waiting for it to relent.

As Pressfield says, “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

Did you catch that? Nothing else matters except showing up every day and doing the work. We cannot wait for inspiration to strike or for our circumstances to change or for our kids to grow up or for our finances to get better. These are excuses. These are giving in to the Resistance.

These are things I battle daily as soon as the thought of writing enters my mind. My desire to write is like the seed that fills our bird feeder; it instantly attracts the squirrels of Resistance who want to feast on what is not meant for them.

In these moments, I force myself to show up. For me, that means opening my laptop and opening a current project, like Rewriting Destiny, or opening a blank document and putting on a favorite playlist of music that runs between 10 to 15 minutes and freewriting (no backspacing, no stopping, only words pouring onto the page).

Sometimes, it means going old school, and picking up a pen and my writing notebook and writing where I am – whether that is at home or waiting for one of my girls at a therapy appointment. Headphones, playlist, pen moving across the page.

Every stroke of the pen or keyboard is running off the squirrels and making room for the beauty of the birds. The beauty our world and our souls need. Art and dreams are resilient, but they need us to do our part. Art and dreams need us to show up.

How will you make time and show up for your dream or passion today? I’d love to hear what happens with your dream when you choose to chase off the squirrels of Resistance.

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12 thoughts on “The Squirrels of Resistance

  1. I love this. This is such a good reminder of the lesson that I thought I had learned last year.

    I’m a planner and I was constantly looking up ways that I could do things better, or faster. At the time I was struggling as a homemaker, and the mom of 3 kids with special needs. I was constantly searching for a system that would help me with my constant struggle to keep my house in order, be the mom my kids needed, juggling finances, and still manage to indulge in luxuries like bathing regularly.

    Throughout the year, the same phrase kept repeating itself over and over, in one context or another, and every time that the phrase was uttered, it sent a ping right to my heart. It wasn’t until the phrase came to me (once again) in a bible study that I finally acknowledged that it was a specific message for me, and dedicated myself to following it.

    The phrase was “Do the work.” (the bible verse that cemented it is (NIV) 1 Chronicles 28:10) I kept looking for VERY BEST way to do things, or how to do it perfectly, and I kept forgetting that even if i did find the most perfect way, there would still be work to do. Instead of planning my destination to the minute, I needed to just walk the path, or else I would never be where I wanted to be.

    And I seem to applied that to the necessary things in my life like housekeeping and childminding, but that is where it all stopped. There is a quote that i might be butchering that says “first do what is necessary, and then do what is possible, and soon you will find yourself doing the impossible” I think it is time for me to move past what is necessary.

    Oh man, i’m sorry about the sermon, I am waxing poetical today. Thank you for writing this little nudge; It is very timely and I truly appreciate it.

    • You journey is so similar to mine. Like we are on parallel paths some of the time.

      And that quote is a good motivator for doing small steps toward what seems impossible right now. It’s in the small steps that the journey is made, right?

      For me, every word I write in 10 or 15 minutes are words I wouldn’t have had if I waited for a better writing opportunity.

      Thank you for waxing poetic here. It lets me know I’m not alone on the journey or in my struggles. Even more, it lets me know my words matter outside of me.

  2. I can relate to this only too well! I am still sorting papers and trying to recover from my Mom’s 6 moves and everything that got dumped on me in the past 5 years, plus my own previous clutter! Until I get that under control, I have no real work space! And just when I start to make headway, something else happens and the space gets filled up with stuff again. Now I’m going to have to store a lot of my mom’s seasonal decorations because her room is so small. On the up side, she’s still with us, she knows who I am, and most days her sense of humor is intact! In the meantime, I keep planning and taking steps toward starting my business and creating again. (Swatting at those squirrels with a broom when I can!)

    • I feel like we are kindred spirits on this journey together, my friend. You let me know when I need to step in and run those squirrels off for you. We can do this.

  3. You have no idea how I needed this reminder today! I have made so much progress on decluttering and minimizing our belongings, but this week, I have done the bare minimum while working VBS 4 hours a day. I have been exhausted & my girls have, too. As soon as I get home, I’m getting back to miniminzing. My kitchen counters will be completely bare again & the closet by the half bath will be completely cleaned out for the first time in the 4 years since we’ve lived in this house. Being tired and sore, is no reason to not get these things done. It makes such a difference in how I feel mentally.

    • I have enjoyed reading your updates on the decluttering you’re doing. You have been working hard at that and sometimes it’s okay to have to work in smaller increments to address other priorities. Keep it up, girl!

    • They’re crafty little things, aren’t they? But I believe you’re craftier than they are. You’ve got this *hands Mike a fully loaded pellet gun*

  4. Being a caring Mom is a built in resistance situation–you have already made a huge life commitment, so adding creative endeavors on top of responsibilities is a built in conflict. Best to you as you navigate these waters.

    • That’s a good point, Marjorie. I hadn’t thought about it like that. And as parents we hear about the importance of self care. For me, self care includes tending to my writing, which is something I practice and sometimes forget to practice. Grace and small steps, right.

    • You have some fun stories to share. Making time is definitely a must in order to defeat the Resistance. You’ve got this!

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