Posts Tagged ‘Procrastination’

( the following in quotes  is from my latest reading obsession, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, unless otherwise noted)

“Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy, and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling.  A writer writes with his Genius;  an artist paints wither hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center.  It’s our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.”

(Elizabeth Gilbert‘s TED talk and her thoughts on the ancient Roman’s idea of “the Genius”)

“Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance.”

“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.  It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.  Resistance is protean.  It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.  It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.  Resistance has no conscience.  it will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.  If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.  Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North–meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.

We can use this.  We can use it as a compass.  We can navigate Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or action that we must follow before all others.

Rule of Thumb:  The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

The enemy is a very good teacher.–The Dalai Lama

“Resistance has no strength of its own.  Ever ounce of juice it possesses comes from us.  We feed it with power by our fear of it.

Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.”

(feed your white dog.)

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit.  We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our death bed.

Never forget:  This very moment, we can change our lives.  There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.  This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.

This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Boogie Chillen’ :

Well my mama she didn’t ‘low me, just to stay out all night long, oh Lord
Well my mama didn’t ‘low me, just to stay out all night long
I didn’t care what she didn’t ‘low, I would boogie-woogie anyhow

When I first came to town people, I was walkin’ down Hastings Street
Everybody was talkin’ about, the Henry Swing Club
I decided I drop in there that night
When I got there, I say, “Yes, people”
They was really havin’ a ball!
Yes, I know
Boogie Chillen’!

One night I was layin’ down,
I heard mama ‘n papa talkin’
I heard papa tell mama, let that boy boogie-woogie,
It’s in him, and it got to come out
And I felt so good,
Went on boogie’n just the same


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Riding home on the 6 and then L trains from work tonight, I finished up my latest read, “Writing Down the Bones,” by Natalie Goldberg. While reading the very last pages of the afterward (which is in interview format via Tami Simon of “Sounds True”), I was so wholeheartedly moved that I was oh so nearly brought to tears right there on the train (can you say, “awkward”?).

The excerpt is below, but what I also want to say first is that I love how she says (via her own personal “guru,” Katagiri Roshi), whatever it is that you love, that you want to be doing more than anything, make THAT your practice. In fact, not just make it, but that IS your practice. For her it is writing. For me that would be acting, for another it might be math, painting, building, cooking, etc. THAT is the (spiritual, no religion necessarily needed) practice of your life.

What she says below also reminds me of the late great Mystic of the Theatre, Elenora Duse, who said that the point of it all was to forget the self. To me that does not mean to discard the Great Self that is within you, that is pushing and pulling you in all ways to become and express and be all that you are to be, your whole reason for being. It means in the pursuing of your (own personal) practice, forget that small self, that objects, throws a tantrum and a fight, says you can’t, you’re not good enough, talented enough, IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE. Because the truth of it is that’s really none of your business. So look at yourself squarely, tell the truth about what your joy is, release “control” of any needed outcome to it and just get busy “practicing.”

Excerpt from the afterward of “Writing Down the Bones,” by Natalie Goldberg:

“Q: What does “Don’t be tossed away” mean?

A: Don’t be tossed away by your monkey mind. You say you want to do something–(example)”I really want to be a writer”–then that little voice comes along, “but I might not make enough money as a writer.” “Oh, okay, then I won’t write.” That’s being tossed away. These little voices are constantly going to be nagging us. If you make a decision to do something, you do it. Don’t be tossed away. But part of not being tossed away is understanding your own mind, not believing it so much when it comes up with all these objections and then loads you with all these insecurities and reasons not to do something.

As I got closer to finishing this book, I had tremendous fear both of failure and success. I stopped working on “Bones” for almost six months and became a baker at a restaurant…..One day during a break I took a walk…and I fell down sobbing, and I said, “Nat, you have to do it for Katagiri(her “guru” mentioned earlier in the book), forget about yourself.” And that gave me the drive to do it. In my mind I grabbed on to Katagiri and told myself, “I’m doing it for him.” I have as much insecurity as anybody else, but I don’t pay attention to myself so much when I’m in the process of doing something that I really want. I don’t think, “Natalie, do you want it? Don’t you want it?” Because that fear of success and failure stops me. If I think of myself, I get caught in myself, like everyone else. First my insecurities, then my overblown idea of myself. I swing from one extreme to the other. But if I forget myself, then I can do it. Don’t be thrown off by yourself or anyone else. Let your big mind move forward.

At the time I was writing this book, I felt this tremendous love for Katagiri Roshi. When I say love, I mean beyond anything I’d ever felt. And maybe I needed to share that with readers. But that great love was something bigger than good or bad. He had pulled true Natalie out of me. So, big Natalie wanted to do it for big Katagiri. And now what I understand is that big Natalie and big Katagiri were never separate. But that’s not psychological. That’s the truth.

The great freedom for me came when I understood that we were never separate and that I was him and he was me. That huge love helped me not to be tossed away. In completing this book, I felt a willingness to step up to the plate. It was my time to stop clinging to myself, to take deeper vows. To take on this writing life, and the practice was for me to realize that I was capable of what I was capable of.”

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I‘ve been avoiding you.  Don’t take it personally.  I’ve been working very hard to avoid all creative outlets in any way possible.  Facebook.  Sleeping.  Eating.  Housework.  Perezhilton.com.  You name it.  Anything that could fill my time with anything other than what I really want to be doing.

I haven’t been nice to myself about it either.  Deeming myself a procrastinator, lazy, a facade.  And the longer it has carried on, the more frustrated I have grown.  Just ask my oh-so-patient husband on the receiving end.

I have been blessed with an incredible amount of inspiration as of late.  People, places, sights, from-the-Heart live music, conversations, movies.  One was “Black Swan,” which we saw last weekend and which addresses the idea of “perfection.” (Btw, I’ve also seen “Blue Valentine” and “The Fighter” within the past couple of weeks…both which are excellent, HOWEVER, if you see only one movie in the immediate future PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE  do yourself a favor and see “Blue Valentine”—it is so rare to see a movie that is so utterly honest and raw and the true true true expression of Love—this movie lit a fire in me and moved me beyond description).  It (“Black Swan”) got me thinking a lot about myself and how I use the excuse of perfection (perfect conditions, perfect knowledge, perfect preparedness, etc) to put off and off and off free creative expressions that my LJ (Little Jenn—totally stole that from Julia Cameron) longs for.  And then by “hap circumstance” (hahaha), last week I found myself agreeing (??—certainly not without resistance) to co-facilitate a 12 week undertaking of The Artist’s Way….when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but….oh you sneaky, sneaky little chapter one:  the shadow artist and creative blocks.  Yes, of course I’ve read this chapter several times before.  Yes, of course I’ve taken 1000 classes, gone on a zillion retreats, done all kinds of release release RELEASE DAMNIT! work in the past.  Did that make me any more aware as to why I found myself avoiding the very thing I love, my very reason for being, around what this entire move to NYC has been about?


So, okay.  NOW I know.  In hindsight (20/20), it is so easy to see how and why this happened.  This move emerged from the Artist’s Way class I took last summer; the class that is about GENTLY recovering your artist.  And so what do I do with that class, but clearly hear the Voice that is within me and… I run with it.  Not teeny tiny little baby steps like Julia Cameron suggests, but huge, ginormous, giant leaps and bounds  to the moon and back.  So of COURSE there is the ego/logic brain of me that, even if on a subconscious level, is freaking the eff out.  What have you done with our safe, predictable Jenn?  “To hell with her!” Little Jenn proclaims, but the fight-or-flight, look-both-ways-before-crossing-the-street jenn (yes that lower case j is intentional) has been shaking her head vigorously, “oh HELL no.”

Prior to this revelation, I did realize I needed to get some Chi movement going in my life.  Activity breeds activity, and even though I didn’t understand that the procrastination was a block, I knew that if I could just get myself moving on SOMETHING, that would bleed out into every other creative aspect of my life.  So weeks ago, after “happening” (re: hahaha) upon a catalog, I signed up for a Creative Writing class through Gotham–which starts TODAY.  I know at the very least, it will highly benefit my acting process (during which I tend to do a lot of writing).  My gut tells me the benefits will spread out way beyond that intention.  When The Artist’s Way opportunity came along, I strongly considered dropping the class, thinking there was no way I could do both, especially with other projects I am inspired to do right now (oh, right– but am NOT doing!); but I quickly kicked that nonsense to the curb.  I have had FAR more on my plate in the past and gotten along juuuuust fine.

So here is what I am declaring: I give myself permission to take baby steps.  I give myself to take ridiculously gigantic steps.  I give myself permission to fall down, make a mess, cry, laugh, sing, scream.  Oh, and re: this blog—I give myself permission to NOT wait until the “perfect” time and inspiration have occurred.  Writing one sentence is fine.  One word.  One picture.  Whatever strikes me at that moment.  It doesn’t have to be about some big “aha” moment in my consciousness.  At the time it can seem like utter and total crap.  As long as it is me being Me.  That is my new definition of perfection.

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