Among the Spears

I have been facing some pretty heavy emotional and spiritual resistance the last few mornings and until today I haven’t really seen it as such, but I recently have made the decision that I would put any considerations of a brewing career on hold and focus on my writing.

I his books The War of Art and Turning Pro, Stephen Pressfield talks about the ideas of resistance and the shadow career. Resistance is felt whenever we try to make a change for the positive but especially when seek to bring our true self, our inborn genius, our God given talent to the fore of our life. The shadow career is our attempt to find relief from the need to bring about the birthing of our true self and it is a way of avoiding resistance by doing something other than what we were put on the earth to do. For me brewing had a risk of becoming a shadow career something that seemed easier than writing my book

In Turning Pro, Pressfield quotes the Greek poet Archilochus “Be brave, my heart. Plant your feet, and square your shoulders to the enemy. Meet him among the man killing spears. Stand your ground”.  I find myself among the man killing spears today. The enemy is pushing on areas of my life that have nothing to do with my writing, all my fears and failures come rushing in, and it is easy to forget that I get to fight back or that I have the ability to.

I want to break down the Archilochus quote, then I want to leave you with my thoughts on this battle called life. So let’s begin.

Be brave, my heart. It is amazing that bravery is not something we naturally do, we have to remind ourselves to be brave. The most repeated command in the Bible is fear not. Why? Because the human race forgets that it can conquer that fear is a tool of resistance, and that it is largely only in our mind. Once we take on the posture of bravery, fear largely flees.

Plant your feet, and square your shoulders to the enemy. Take up a fighting stance and brace for impact. I wish I could say that just being brave would take care of resistance, but it doesn’t, sometimes you have to fight it out. And the more fiercely you oppose resistance the dirtier it will fight, so be ready.

Meet him among the man killing spears. Run toward the fight. Don’t wait for an invitation, don’t wait to get ambushed. Actively engage the enemy, fight for what’s yours, the realization of the deep things in your soul. I you want these things you must fight tooth and nail for them, not engage in a half-heart 6th grade girl slap fight.

Stand your ground. This one is interesting, and requires a little bit of an explanation of pre-modern battle tactics. Most armies from the Greeks to the Vikings fought in some form of shield wall. The shield wall was exactly that, an impenetrable wall of shields, which required warrior to lock shields with the men on either side of him. The thing we have to remember about our fight is that we, for the most part, aren’t alone. We need to lock in and hold, because there are others around us counting on us, they need us to birth the unique things set in our souls into the world. We need their support and they need ours.

I think that war mentality if hard for us modern humans because we have been taught to play nice and we inevitably carry that teaching into our emotional and spiritual battles. We have forgotten how to be ruthless with resistance.

I have a ritual, that I have never shared with anyone ‘til now, that I use to put myself into the war mindset. It is a tactic as old as war, it is the war cry. There many war cries, I use the Norse and Germanic Ahh OOt, I repeat over and over again with intensity. You’d be surprised that something that sound so dumb actually really psyches you up. This usually helps me to focus and clear my head of the fog of resistance.

The battle to birth our unique gifts to the world is essential to our survival as individuals and as the human race, especially more so now as Kardashians influence us, computers think for us and angry birds entertain us.

 

 

 

Into the unknown

I am 32 years old, and I still feel sometimes like I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And to make matters, I feel like my personality is highly compartmentalized and that when I look one facet of my personality and its corresponding career, I inadvertently exclude all others; and yet, the same time, I feel that if I don’t exclude something, I will end sounding like a 10 who says, I want to be a rock star, a secret agent, and an astronaut.

In The Tao of Jeet Kun Do, Bruce Lee says “Freedom lies in understanding yourself moment to moment”. I feel like I understand the separate parts of myself, i.e. the beer geek, the writer, and the aspiring tour guide/future travel channel host, but I don’t understand how they fit together, or if they even fit into to my professional life at all.

The one thing I know is that I can’t live an ordinary life, that is off the table, I have tried too many times to be a good boy and go back to America and get job, pay my bills, and do all the things normal people do. That hasn’t worked. I tried the whole working for a corporation, normal job thing, and it felt like it was killing me. I really value freedom and creativity in my work, something most companies don’t value.

For me, the current issue is channeling my interests and my talents towards something that can make me happy, pay my bills, and makes me proud to do. Currently, I teach ESL to third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Graders in Beijing’s airport district. I love my job, but ultimately I don’t want to have answer to answer to someone in my day to day life (I understand that if I actually ever sign with a publisher I would answer to them, but there is still more autonomy than I currently have), I want to be my own boss, either as a writer or as a brewer. I want to not have people try to tell how to cut my hair, or how long my beard can be, or what tattoos I can have where. Autonomy is what I want more than anything (I have a pretty good degree of autonomy with my current job). I also want to feel fulfilled creatively by my work and do work that brings me joy. Some people may think I am crazy, I think there this idea in America that you shouldn’t be happy at work, you just go to the job that pays the most, and then buy a ton of crap to fill the empty space in your soul, but my desire to enjoy my work is actually biblical, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25: “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” Toil means work, we were meant to find happiness in our work.

Now this bring me back to my original dilemma, what should I focus on. I recently told my friends and family that I was feeling this way, and I got some really encouraging emails, but one that stood out was from a friend and in it he said that I should follow the passion that is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. I won’t lie, at first I was extremely frustrated by this advice, mainly because I have heard it before, and secondly because the last thing I think about before I go to bed is what bills need to be paid, or unfinished lesson plans, and the first think I think about is whether or not I’m going to do yoga that morning or what’s on my schedule for the day.

The one thing, though, that I can tell you is that I draw energy from my writing. Just in writing this today, I feel alive. I think that may end up just being a writer who is a passionate amateur tour guide and beer expert. I can say I am not entirely sure where the road goes or how the story ends, but I do know that as long as I keep doing what I love, even I don’t get paid, it will be a good journey.