And May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

Photo courtesy of Sapphireblue (Flickr)

 

Long before the sun spilled its color over the fields of winter wheat, I hit the road running.

I live in an area swallowed by farmland, by cedar swamps, by woods choked with stickers, and the roads are quiet and bare around the clock, especially this morning in the fog.

I turned the corner and turned up the music.

Deep into the mileage, I stopped noticing the dew on spider webs laced between branches and the shades of green in the sod fields. My steps no longer matched the beat of the song. My right shin felt tight.

I still had another mile to go before I crossed the threshold of my driveway.

My lungs felt swollen, my throat felt raw, my gait felt off balance.

Just one more mile.

 

A few months ago when I lived in the city, I kept myself busy. I spent evenings out with friends, planned dinners and Hitchcock movies with my roommate, walked blocks and blocks to the gym.

But then those nights would creep in, the nights where I found myself alone and unscheduled, desperately trying to keep those difficult questions at bay. I’d pick up a new book, order a cup of coffee at the nearest cafe, walk all the way to the store for nothing at all.

And then in the brief stillness of waiting in line, the split second between paragraphs, the block between 2nd and 3rd, they’d catch up to me: Is this living? Is this how I want to spend my life? Does my life have meaning?

 

As humans, we’re hardwired to steer clear of pain

We stay caffeinated, absorbed, entertained. If we feel the first pinpricks of hurt, we smother it in acetaminophen and sitcoms, chocolate ice-cream. And if it starts to hurt more, we give in.

We wave our white flags before the battle’s even begun.

Just like I slowed my pace in the last mile. Just like I filled my schedule full of meaningless distractions.

Just like I stop writing when the isolation grows too heavy, when the words I write encounter criticism, when everything I’ve worked towards ends in a rejection letter tucked deep in the mailbox.

This is the crucial moment, when the pain first seeps in and you’re tempted to cower behind your shield.

Steven Pressfield paints this fear as Resistance, a fire-breathing dragon that “belches fire and lives only to block you from reaching the gold of wisdom and freedom.” But fortunately, you’ve got armor and a pretty sweet sword:

The only intercourse possible between the knight and the dragon is battle. The contest is life-and-death, mano a manoIt asks no quarter and gives none.

 

If you think about it, we’re only skin and bones. Everything is dangerous. That pot of water boiling on the stove, that car in the next lane.

Like life, creativity is dangerous ground. There are dragons and shields and moments of bloodshed.

But you’re safer than you think.

So go ahead, roll up your sleeves, and chase down that dragon.

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

Do you have a dragon looming in your life right now?