We have all heard that “anything worth doing in life requires effort”. No doubt since childhood, we have each also heard something like, “nothing of worth in life comes for free”.
Physics tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Like two riders on an equally weighted seesaw, you can expect equal push back to the force you exert, to the effort that you commit, to the size of your vision, to the strength of your vision, to the scope of your ambition.
When you commit towards a new endeavor, expect to be pushed back upon in equal measure in several aspects of your life.
We have all also heard, “Well, when it rains, it pours”. For many, the closer they get towards achieving their goal, the more it “rains”.
That push-back, be it in the form of a difficult circumstance or a person of opposition, or stress that pulls at your focus…be sure that the push-back you encounter will be of equal skill, of equal energy–equal to that energy that you posses, that you exert.
The hero always faces characters of similar skill, of similar size. Think of any movie you have watched, any novel you have read. It makes for a pretty boring story, if they hero is not challenged on equal level. The hero journey is about adventure and it holds two potentials: 1. Success. and 2. Failure. Both results are equally possible.
For many, they throw up their hands and buckle under the varied life pressures and stresses that surround them.
When engaged in the stress of…say….starting a new business, you may find that as you near your opening, tons of other, seemingly non-related stresses appear, each willing to sidetrack your focus and cause you to surrender.
Maybe someone close to you dies and you add grief to your travel companions. Perhaps you get some nasty letter in the mail that you have no choice but to deal with, to take time and focus and deal with, all of which takes you from your focus on your goal.
In a lot of Chinese temples (and western cathedrals too), you can find terrible creatures, monsters, gargoyles at entrance doors. Often, these statues were placed at the entrance of a temple and were designed to scare away any travelers who were not strong enough, not willing enough to pass through. Only those most fit for the adventure before them may pass through these threshold guardians.
There is a stage that nearly every hero falls into at some point. It is called The Belly of the Whale. It is in this stage of the adventure, that the hero is torn to pieces and a death and rebirth occurs. This is the place where the hero is made to look squarely into the eyes of their own Fear and Doubt and recon with them. Will these characters crush the hero and prevent them from traveling further? Will the hero push these voices down and walk out of the belly, a new being and, consequently, stronger and more able to achieve their goals?
Here is a tip, when you find yourself in the Belly of the Beast: When you put one foot in front of another and just keep going, keep exerting that small, simple effort, what you find, after time, is that you have covered a great distance.
Buddhists tell us that the mind is like the sky. Dark thoughts are like clouds passing through. They may linger for some time. They might even drop heavy rain upon us. However, if you keep watching that sky, those clouds will pass on through and blue skies will return again.
Sometimes, when beginning a new endeavor, the enormity of the obstacles, the consistency of push-back that life gives you, can feel overwhelming.
In such times, I like to remember Rick Sordelet, a friend from Yale and marvelous fight choreographer. No doubt the best, if not one of. He would often say this: “Keep it simple, stupid”. How strong that advice is. If we focus on the enormity of the full panorama and complexity of our lives, we can see a lot, sometimes a lot of chaos. The full enormity can feel very overwhelming and make us feel fearful. However, if we focus simply, on the here and now, we can act through the obstacles–with intention and willfulness. In doing so, we keep stepping further, keep moving forward.
Rarely are the obstacles we face as daunting as we see them in our mind’s eye.
Success in a career in the arts is, largely, about persevering and adapting, constantly. It is bout enduring, about not giving up. It is about staying in the game, changing to the demands of the market, changing as is necessary and perpetually moving forward (if only very slowly), consistently overcoming or working with Push-back, consistently moving towards our goals.
Hart is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway.