Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lessons in Lovemaking from the War of Art

Make no mistake, my little debutantes, Art is War.

To be a Maker is to step once more unto the breach. To go into the place where the Creations that you alone can give to the world are to be found, and then drag them, kicking and screaming, into reality. They will not come easily. They will fight back. Or rather, you will fight back, because although the Gift of Making might just be the greatest Joy that life has to offer, it is also its most terrifying adventure, because it is the most dangerous journey you can possibly undertake.

Oh, my, but yes - dangerous.

Dangerous, because it will require you to go places you have never been, do things you have never done, and open yourself up to a world of pain you can't even imagine. Any assurance of success is pure conjecture. The possibility for failure looms HUGE. And failure, in a world bloody in tooth and claw, can kill you.

Your mind will therefore attempt to protect you. It will say, "No, no. Don't go over there. That's a horrible idea. You'll end up dead or, worse, laughed at. Come, come. Step over here, where it's familiar. Do this thing you've already done. It worked for you before, didn't it? It worked for those other people, didn't it? You'll be safe, here."

This mental voice is what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance in his book The War of Art,  a lovely little bit of writing that examines how to identify and then struggle past the blocks that keep you from creative success in everything from painting, to writing, to fishmongering. Yes, fishmongering.

Because everything is Art - if you do it right - and everyone faces the same Resistance.


I was thinking about this yesterday, and how it applies to the Act of Lovemaking. By which I mean not just sex and not actually sex at all, specifically, but more how we go about building a Love with another person.

I think the same truths apply. I think we all have an in-built Resistance to making a Love that transcends our known experience, so we end up perpetually re-treading our old patterns, endlessly repeating our same mistakes (and suffering, to our endless surprise, under the law of ever-diminishing returns).

We'd like to think there's a formula we can follow for Lovemaking - that if we do just the right things, as outlined in The Latest Pop-Sensation Relationship Book, then we can have the perfect, perfectly fulfilling love. But ask yourself this: do you really want the sort of Love that someone else outlined in their zeitgeisty book? Or would you rather have a Love that is unique to you and your lover - a Love that only the two of you, in all the history of all humanity, could ever possibly make?

Terrifying, isn't it? 

To launch out into the unknown with no guarantee of success. To say to your lover... let us burn the maps, leave the rutted path, and march bravely off into the woods, believing that for you and I, no common vista will do.

There's bad news, though, and the news is this: the antidote to making a boring, unsatisfying, clichéd life or Love seems to be to work at it. And not just work at it... no, you can't just run headlong into it over and over, and expect it to get better - no. You have to actively seek out that fear of the unknown and march hand-in-hand straight toward that. You need to view creative Love not as a dalliance, but a discipline. You have to acknowledge that although there will be times when it will be necessary to rest a while by walking a well-trodden path, if you want to make the absolute best Love possible, then you're going to have to be ever-ready to take the enormous Risk of the Unknown. There, alone, can you hope to make the Love that is best for you.

No book can tell you where to turn. No Tom Hanks weep-fest can show you the way.

You and only you will know where the compass of your fear is pointing - the needle that threatens to prick you with the possibility that by trying something else, you're bound to fail. To be laughed at. To die. You know what, though? The blasé imitation-love you've been settling for is already killing you.

So leave. Run. Dive into your fear.

And as it dissipates (it will)... make Love.

- - -

If you loved this thing that I have made, please feel free to do me a solid and share it on your social internets (there's a button down below the post). Then click below to watch Mel Gibson tell it like it is. Oh, and you could always buy one of my story-books, if you're feeling like being awesome.

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