(This is the second of a five-part navigational series on the nature of “resistance,” exploring its challenges and hidden gifts).
There’s a trail in the ancient forest near our summer cabin. It’s a tiny footpath with a story that many years ago the trail was laid by lovers who beat the path from the top of the hill to the bottom, breathlessly rushing into each other’s arms.
Unless you know where to look, you’d never even see the markers. They’re burned into a slice of cedar and hung precariously on a branch. Here 2 reads the one at the top of the trail; There is on the other end. Both signs sport arrows. Coming across them in the woods I always feel like Alice in Wonderland and I fully expect the Mad Hatter to show up around the next bend, pointing in four other directions and cautioning me that which way you go “depends upon where you want to get to.”
This is how I often feel when I’m facing a blank page or a project that needs doing. I’m at the start of a trail. I want to know where it goes. I want the directions that don’t seem to be showing up. So why would I want to start, my mind wonders, if I don’t know where it goes?
The Mad Hatter in my brain can just go on and on from here to there, full of detours and shifts and hairpin turns of thought. It can delight, infuriate, and … mostly, confuse.
This is a big sign that I’m facing resistance.
Here’s what I’ve learned, what I am learning. When I start Here and take the next step on the trail, and then the next, There reveals itself, eventually. This is the beauty of the creative process. As I wander on the trail, the next turn shows itself. I don’t even need to know where it will go. There’s simply the next step. And the next. And each turnback reveals a new view, a new relationship with the project, whether it’s writing or inquiry or art … or reorganizing my closet.
Someone once said that “perfect is the enemy of done.”
In my experience, deciding ahead where I want to get to is often the near enemy of starting.
I can know this and then I forget … I know how it will end up anyway, so I don’t start. Or I rush to the conclusion, and I miss the yummy process. And so I get way-laid before I ever take the trail.
It’s all the fault of the Mad Hatter, that tricky son of a gun.
Without his lunatic ravings, his insistence that I’m not ready if I don’t know where I’m going, it’s simple.
I start. And let the path worn by lovers of creativity before me show me the way.