A serendipitous find on a subject I had just blogged about less than 24 hours earlier: resistance and fear of success. Merlin Mann, the blogger behind the personal productivity blog 43 Folders, writes:
Resistance can be thought of as anything that pulls us away from doing the work we know is most important to us. It takes many forms (including procrastination, fear, distraction, and negative self-talk), but the effect is often similar: we find or permit all kinds of barriers to keep us from becoming the person we want to be, or from completing the thing we really want to make. Whether that’s being a published author, a composer, a playwright, or a painter, our impulse to create constantly battles an impulse to do something else, or to do nothing — to not upset our weirdly comfy stasis.
This book [The War of Art by Steven Pressfield] came up twice in my recent interview with Jonathan Coulton; both in part one and today’s recently released part two. Jonathan strikes me as someone who has, so far, succeeded at talking down the resistance he’d faced, and now he’s doing what he’s great at, and, in his words, he’s working hard to become the kind of “true person” that he wants to be for his daughter.
I think it’s really important to underscore that beating resistance does not have to mean quitting your job or doing something equally dramatic; it just means that you identify and then choose to beat the crap out of whatever perceived obstacle keeps you from doing your work. You “go Pro” … making it all about the work, and not allowing yourself to trail off when it gets hard or when you have to fight in order to get your stuff done. Pretty inspiring stuff, as far as I’m concerned.
In this video clip of the interview, Merlin interviews singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, when the conversation drifts towards how resistance can block us from becoming (in Jonathan’s words) a “true person”.
Here’s a transcript of the part of the interview that really hooked me:
JC: …if I’m gonna be a true person, and an example of a true person to this child, then I should be true to myself, and do what it is that I’m interested in doing. And it just felt so much more honest since I’ve decided to that. So, yeah that seems suicidal…
MM: No, not really. I men, that’s the funny part about stuff like that…to refer to a book I referred to earlier, The War of Art, it’s not it’s my favourite book or something, it’s just a book I recently read…
JC: (smiling) Sure, sure…
MM: One thing that he said is really interesting ... he said that one reason we do things like procrastinate and we kind of, we find these barriers for ourselves, is that the closer we get to the thing that we kind of secretly realize in our head that we should be doing, the more reasons we find to not do it. Because it creates this kind of stasis that lets us sort of stay locked in. And yeah, I mean, maybe it’s the craziest thing you ever did, or maybe it’s like you finally unlock the door to thing that’s gonna make you happy.
JC: Yeah, and I do feel like…when my daughter was born, that was the moment that sort of clarified my whole life.
Jonathan Coultons website: Jonathan Coulton
Jonathan Coultons website: Jonathan Coulton
I am so angry, and I have so much to say about the Mark Foley scandal down in the U.S., that I hardly know where to begin.
Lawyers acting for Mark Foley, the Republican congressman who resigned after it was revealed he had sent sexually charged emails to teenage boys, said yesterday that the politician had been abused by a member of the clergy as a teenager.
No details of the alleged abuse were given, other than that Mr Foley, who is a Roman Catholic, was between 13 and 15 years old at the time of the abuse. One lawyer, David Roth, acknowledged for the first time that the congressman, 52, is gay. "Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man," Mr Roth told a news conference in Florida, adding that the admission was part of a "recovery" programme. He also insisted that Mr Foley was "absolutely, positively not a paedophile". Mr Foley said in a statement on Monday that he was an alcoholic and that he was entering a recovery programme to treat his condition. (Glaister, Dan. "Republican who sent indecent emails was abused ", The Guardian, October 4, 2006)
Oh, so now he finally decides to come out of the closet, several years after he was already outed by The Advocate newsmagazine for hypocritcally voting in favour of the "Defence of Marriage" act.
And of course, now he checks himself into rehab, whimpering: "I did because I was drunk."; "I did it because of that priest."
Entering a "recovery" program? Recovery from what? Being gay? Being drunk? Getting caught??
I find it beyond pathetic that Foley finally plays the gay card, only when he thinks it will help him. How can it help him, you ask? By not-so-subtly using the "I'm gay so I molest children" charge which the Religious Right likes to keep throwing at us God-damned sodomites. That way, perhaps he can cast his sexual orientation as more of a "sin" that needs "recovery". This man is a disgrace to honest queer people everywhere, and I comfort myself with the thought that he's gonna be one helluva popular bitch at whatever prison he lands up in.
Oh, and he says he's not a paedophile?!? Well, I guess that depends on the law, but really. As more word leaks out about the content of those IM messages between him and one or more teenagers, one has to ask just how Mark Foel defines the term.
Apparently he is now saying (via his lawyer) that since no physical (i.e. face-to-face) acts took place, he is not a paedophile. This defence falls intro the category of "I never has sex with that woman!" Clinton learned a blow job is sex. Foley is going to soon learn that cybersex is sex.
And to make matters even worse, until his resignation he was a co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, and a backer of new legislation, the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which he may well now be charged under. HE WAS IN A POSITION OF TRUST. (I wonder what Joe Walsh, Adam's father and host of America's Most Wanted, is thinking now.)
I got news for Mr. Foley: Being gay does NOT excuse what you did. Being a drunk does NOT excuse what you did. Being a victim of child sex abuse does NOT excuse what you did. Being ANY COMBINATION OF a diddled-with, drunken faggot does NOT excuse what you did, in any way, shape or form. That you even TRY to use these as excuses or defenses makes you even viler, if that is possible.
I hope Foley gets the book thrown at him. His grasping, gawping response by checking into rehab and blaming booze/sexual abuse/being gay is absolutely, utterly, completely vile and reprehensible. Thankfully, most people can already see through that "rehab" act pretty easily; it's getting old.
UPDATE: Now Newt Gingrich has said that one reason why the Republicans in power didn't act on Mark Foley sooner was that they were afraid of being accused of "gaybashing". What the...?! As John Stewart said in response on The Today Show, assuming that all homosexuals are child sex offenders IS gaybashing.
Yay! I fouond my digital camera battery recharger. Still looking for my ticket, though...
Double yay! I found a link to that absolutely amazing performance by Bianca Ryan on America's Got Talent! See and hear for yourself...
And here's Jennifer Holliday herself, singing the same song from the Broadway musical Dreamgirls:
Slob is such an ugly word.
I prefer the term "relaxed housekeeper".
Among my friends it is well known that I have an apartment that varies on a scale somewhere between "you need to tidy a bit" and "oh my god how do you FIND anything?". Every so often I go on a neat freak fit, but in between, the piles start to form and grow.
Well, at the moment, I am still looking for my Winnipeg Folk Festival ticket, and my battery recharger for my Canon PowerShot S500 camera. So far, no luck. This is the time when I berate myself for being such a sl...relaxed housekeeper.
I'm still searching as I clean, but I've alredy decided that if I can't find my Folk Fest ticket, I'm not going this year. I refuse to buy a second one. As for the battery recharger, well, if I can't find that I'll have to shell oout for a new one.
Ryan: "I've decided to teach myself how to read and write Chinese characters. It will keep my mind agile."
Sarcastic Friend: "You already have an over-agile mind. Why don't you take up vacuuming?"
I've (so far) spent the entire weekend holed up in my apartment, puttering around, making half-hearted attempts at cleaning up. Last night I didn't go to the party I was invited to, and instead just stayed home, lay in bed, and felt lonely and sorry for myself. I know I'm cutting myself off from people, I can see that, but I just can't seem to pull myself out of this anti-social funk I'm in.
It's ironic that the only place where I seem to feel comfortable communicating is here, hiding behind my passwords and firewalls, shielded from messy, cruel reality by my computer screen.
I guess it's time to pick up the phone and start de-funking myself. First phone call goes to Sister Thérèse. Second goes to my Mom to tell her yes, I'm still alive and no, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. And then maybe a few long-delayed emails to other family members and friends.
UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: And the funk is gone.
Still thinking about Friend #2, when I should really be thinking about myself and how I don't deal with the unpleasant things in my own life, how I run away from my own feelings. (typical Enneagram Two: focus on everybody else's problems but your own, even deny you have problems. everything's fine, just fine, but you're the one who needs me)
One of things I value most about Friend #2 is his unequivocal bluntness; he calls a spade and spade and won't sugarcoat the truth, even when it hurts. So I did the same with him tonight when we chatted online, playing shit-disturber and devil's advocate for half an hour. But all he's doing is holding up the mirror to me and my own binges to avoid my problems, my feelings.
I may not have had sex with 20 men in four weeks, but I'm the one who's at least 20 pounds overweight. I'm the one who hasn't seen the inside of a gym in over six months. I'm the one who's got a Torso Track that I've never ever used, even once. I'm the one I need to look at, need to focus on. I'm just avoiding looking at the not-pretty parts of my life by looking at the not-pretty parts of other people's lives, trying to "help" them.
So is it better to die from clogged arteries, or from AIDS?
I guess it works out about the same. It might be (marginally) more socially acceptable to be overweight than to be a slut, but truth be told, I'm in just as much heartache as Friend #2 is, with all his very good reasons to be stressed out. So I've decided to keep my mouth shut, stop bugging him about it.
I wonder what my life would be like if, for one week, I stopped trying to find my value by "helping" everybody else. If I faced the ghosts that haunt me.
I first learned about the Enneagram in November 1997 at a workshop put on the Beginning Experience of Winnipeg.
I guess I'd better explain what Beginning Experience is. The Beginning Experience (B.E.) movement began in Texas in 1974, and has since spread to Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The purpose to B.E. is to help separated, divorced, and widowed people to work through their pain and grief, provide a safe space for them to work through their emotional healing and begin a process of self-awareness, and ultimately to free them to live again and love themselves, others and God. It is, at heart, a faith-based peer ministry, organized and led by former B.E. participants (of various Christian denominations) who have undergone some training and have become lay facilitators to help the newer participants through the first steps of the grief and healing process. I went because I had never dealt with my guilt and anger over the failure of my 2-1/2 year marriage in 1991.
B.E. consists of retreat weekends, as well as a weekly "levels" program, levels 1 through 4 of weekly classes. Lower levels focus on the failed/ended relatonship; upper levels tend to focus more on self-awareness and personal growth. After a participant completes level 4, there is a Level 5 available: Enneagram workshops.
I attended two 10-week sessions during 1997-1998 as part of a group of about 20 B.E. facilitators. Our workshop leader was a tiny French-Canadian Roman Catholic nun called Sister Thérèse, a member of the Holy Cross religious community and a co-founder of Contemplative Outreach Canada. I took lots of notes during the sessions, and put them away in a binder, along with my Myers-Briggs personality type stuff, etc. I had to put the Enneagram aside to deal with more pressing matters (i.e. burning out of my job AND coming out the closet to myself). I had other, much more serious, things to worry about than some silly personality system.
Last year, I decided to pull out my 1997/1998 Enneagram workshop notes and read through them again, and I was surprised at how much wisdom there was in what Sister Thérèse had said, and how that fit in with my previous readings on self-awareness (Anthony de Mello, for example). So I made the decision to contact her again. I have since been talking with her regularly as a sort of spiritual counsellor or "guru". I have learned a lot more about the Enneagram along the way, from Sr. Thérèse and from my readings, and what follows is my (admittedly amateur) attempt to explain "what's it all about":