Aug 18, 2007

Sci-Fi and the art of overcoming Resistance

I just finished Peter Hamilton's Pandora's Star, a 988 page sci-fi epic (and that's just part one). Usually, I'm not too patient in reading sci-fi books -- I try to scan the descriptions to make sure I'm not missing much and concentrate on the dialogs. But this time, I read all the details. Slowly and carefully. It took me about a week or so finish, but was well worth it, because I lost myself in that book. I especially liked to read while biking in the gym -- the 45 minutes would pass in no time!

The second book that I read last week was Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. I read it in two sittings -- each chapter is basically a 1 to 2 page essay. And I really liked the book. Short and sweet. With lots of wisdom. The gist of the book: no matter what happens, sit down and do your work every single day. Period. End of story. (In BB8 lingo.) A professional is someone who sits down and does their creative work regularly and consistently. That dedication is what makes anything worthwhile, happen. Here are some quotes from that book:

Anything that draws attention to ourselves through pain-free or artificial means is a manifestation of Resistance. (p24)
The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them. (p37)
Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. "I write only when inspiration strikes," he replied. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp." That's a pro. (p64)
The pro shows up to work everyday. The amateur doesn't. The amateur over identifies with his art. (p71)
Why have I stressed professionalism so heavily in the preceding chapters? Because the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down everyday and trying. Why is this so important? Because ... [when we do that] ... something mysterious starts to happen. ... heaven comes to our aid. [Professionalism or Artist's Code or Warrior's Way is] an attitude of egolessness and service. (p108)

Two other things that I got from this book: you can (and should!) be a pro in at least several different things -- not only in your work but also in several other life skills -- like cooking for lots of people, planning and organizing big events, etc. Things that will benefit your community. The second thing: always be grateful (always say a prayer to your Muse).

So while reading the first book, I became a "professional" reader -- and overcame the resistance to skip over the "boring" parts. And in the second book, I read about that experience! And that was a good combination.