At any given point you can look back at your life. Hopefully you see things that make you proud: the kind of person you are, how you treat people, maybe you have kids and see who they are becoming, personal accomplishments, relationships, etc. But, if when you look back, you continue to not see something you thought you would see; meaning you haven’t done something you wanted to try; it might be worth taking a closer look at it.
For the past 18 years or so, I have had jobs that required me to write. And that’s great, I enjoy it. But only sometimes did those jobs send me after the kind of writing that I would choose to do on my own. I’ve been able to find chances here and there to pursue writing on the fringes, but never a sustained attempt. I’m trying to change that.
Steven Pressfield sees what gets in the way of me, or people in general, going after those things that make up our dreams. He wrote “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” which became a movie, and you’ll recognize a number of his other books. But it’s “The War of Art,” that has my attention at the moment. Pressfield calls it “Resistance,” that thing that stands in the way of people trying to achieve their dreams:
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
He points out Resistance as that force that stops us from doing something–from starting to workout or diet, to trying something new, to going to church, starting a business, painting, writing, from the simple to the profound. It takes the form of procrastination, excuses, it can be inviting or intimidating or rational. But it stops us, by whatever means. Until it doesn’t. And hopefully it doesn’t take a near death experience, or a mid-life crisis, or something of the sort to make us want to get past it.
When I looked around at myself, at how I spend my time away from work, my mornings, my evenings, I saw some things I liked. Spending time with the girls, running, trying to make the most of the mornings. And I saw some things I didn’t: like week day happy hours in the evenings after work sapping momentum, creativity, motivation. And not much writing. It seemed time to make some changes.
The August issue of Tidewater Times is out now. You can pick up a pocket-sized copy of the coolest, carry-with-you magazine on the Eastern Shore from a number of different places. Or you can read it online here. On page 177 in the online version, is the first of an ongoing series of articles and book reviews I’ll be writing there. It helps to have friends like Jim Brighton, who are doing remarkable things like the Maryland Biodiversity Project. If you are the Facebook type, they have more than 5,700 folks following awesome photographs and natural history posts. Regular articles in Tidewater Times is one part.
Getting this site rolling is another. I’ve got others in mind. Stay tuned. It’s also about surrounding myself with other like-minded folks, a creative community of people exploring life and their passions, and making the most out of each day. Some of it will be interviewing and writing about those folks, with Jim being one of them. People have different passions and talents. It could be giving up an office job and opening up a restaurant; it could be starting your own landscaping company and happily spending your days surrounded by nature. When someone’s passion becomes their story, that’s a pretty cool thing to see happen and to share with others.
There are writers out there whose lives and books inspire me daily. Peter Matthiessen and his environmentalism and spirituality. Tony Horwitz and his ways of tying history to the present in ways no one seems to have looked at. Thomas Merton and Frederick Buechner and their callings by God to follow Him and write about it. Gary Snyder and his seamless synthesis of words, nature, the Cosmos.
It’s a big world out there, full of remarkable people doing stuff that no one else can do in just the way that they are. My sense is that each of us has something of that in us.
The writer Will Durant summarized Aristotle by saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” That’s a habit I’d like to make. It will make for much better happy hour conversations on the weekends.