The lake is perfectly still this morning, its glassy surface reflecting trees and docks along the shore. Even the ripples from our own boat have subsided with the engine turned off. A blue heron takes flight in the distance. I zip on my life vest and pull on the gloves.
It’s the last day of our stay at the family lake house, and my body is tired and sore from water sports and lingering remnants of a boot camp class. But the water is too perfect and I want to get in one more water skiing run before we head home. I jump in and the water wraps itself around me like a blanket holding the heat of late summer in Virginia.
“Hit it!” I call out to Mark and the boys, who are still a little bleary-eyed from being roused from sleep to catch the smoothest water. The boat lurches forward. I lose balance quickly and let go, feeling the fatigue in my 48-year-old arms and legs.
Mark swings the boat around, circling the rope behind me so that I can grab it for a second try. I am ambivalent. My determination has mellowed over the years. I have nothing to prove. My sense of competitiveness, fairly strong in my youth, has long since subsided (I am hopeless at board games, because I don’t care in the least about winning).
I adjust the ski, curl up in a ball, and lean back for the next try. “Hit it!”
The rev of the engine fills my ears and water sprays hard in my face. I am stuck halfway between being up or down, the force of the water strong and determined to do me in. I am about to let go, but I realize that it will take even more energy to start all over again. I am not ready to give up yet.
“Just stand up, Martha,” I say to myself through gritted teeth. And I do. I am up and gliding effortlessly over glass.
Fighting the resistance of that water mirrored my ongoing battle with what Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” in his books The War of Art and Turning Pro. Resistance is what makes it hard to sustain a creative endeavor that comes from our hearts, whether in the form of art or business or a new health regimen (the list goes on).
The many manifestations of Pressfield’s Resistance are another way to understand Eckhart Tolle’s use of the term “Ego”. Both “Resistance” and “Ego” are responsible for the voice in our head that detracts us from our calling. If we are to start acting likes pros instead of amateurs, Pressfield tells us, we need to overcome Resistance.
Resistance has intensified in these past several weeks of summer vacation, with routines disrupted and structure falling by the wayside. Distractions prevail. Stillness is in short supply. The water is spraying hard in my face and the rope is straining in my grip. A voice in my head says, “Just let go. Your work isn’t important enough to warrant the effort.”
Just stand up, Martha. School starts in a few days, and your time will be your own again. You are almost on the surface.
How do you overcome Resistance? Let me know in the comments! (And just a side note on the photo — it was taken in April when the water was still quite chilly, hence the wetsuit!)