“DVEKUT BA MESIMA”
The following passage is from Lieutenant Giora Romm, the first fighter-pilot ace [shooting down five enemy planes] of the Israel Air Force:
When I was fifteen [in 1960], I applied for and was accepted into a new military boarding school associated with the Reali School in Haifa. I don’t believe there is an institution in Israel today that can measure up to the standards of that school. Why did I want to go there? I wanted to test myself.
At that time in Israel the ideal to which an individual aspired was inclusion as part of a “serving elite.” The best of the best were not motivated by money or fame. Their aim was to serve the nation, to sacrifice their lives if necessary. At the military boarding school, it was assumed that every graduate would volunteer for a fighting unit, the more elite the better. We studied, we played sports, we trekked. We hiked all over Israel. We were unbelievably strong physically. But what was even more powerful were the precepts the school hammered into our skulls.
First: complete the mission.
The phrase in Hebrew is Dvekut baMesima.
Mesima is “mission,” dvekut means “glued to.” The mission is everything. At all costs, it must be carried through to completion.
I remember running up the Snake Trail at Masada one summer at 110 degrees Fahrenheit with two of my classmates. Each of us would sooner have died than be first to call, “Hey, slow down!”
The Lion’s Gate, pp. 14-15
Readers sometimes take me to task for making so many analogies to battles and actions of war.
But you and I are warriors.
We are on a mission, no less than fighter pilots and tank commanders, and the stakes for us, as for them, are life and death.
“The mission is everything. At all costs it must be carried through to completion.”
Steve, thank you. What an impactful thought. And I think this really presumes absolute honesty to ourselves. Not bullshitting ourselves about our failure to continue and complete our own mission. I suppose this applies to both individual projects, and the our ‘life project’ of ‘being a writer’ by writing and completing pieces of work. That reminds me of Simon Sinek’s concept of ‘finite games’ and ‘infinite games’.
Once again, you cut the message right down to the bone – thanks for this post!
What struck me as so foreign and inspiring was the idea of ‘serving elites’. Boy do I wish our culture embraced that idea. Most of my life I wanted to get through hard to achieve easy or leisure–I misinterpreted pleasure for happiness. Lion’s Gate was so inspirational. It must have been such an honor to meet and interview these amazing men and women. What people can become when they put service and mission ahead of self. Thank you for the reminder.
Agreed, that we could use more selflessness and an ethos of service in this current culture.
I’m just reading a thing this morning that resonates. From a 1998 article in The New Yorker, Joan Didion on Ernest Hemingway:
“You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless—there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing,” Hemingway had written to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1929, when Fitzgerald was blocked on the novel that would be published in 1934 as “Tender Is the Night.”
Warriors, eh… Talk about extending a metaphor.
The only thing an intellectual can do is watch things blow up, from a safe distance, of course.
― Roberto Bolaño,
Art is a luxury. It is a worthwhile luxury, but has nothing to do with risking one’s life in support of a higher ideal, unless one is subject to tyrannical or religious edicts, which none of us are.
Some of us face risks, physically and religiously. Our writing is risky. Not all writers experience the risk Steve is describing, but I can relate to it. The risk is real.
Just what I needed to hear, Steve. This is now pinned to my wall at eye level. Best regards.
Some of us need a mission in order to cope with this dull drum of a life. The real question is how to motivate oneself to engage with a meaningful mission in the first place and make it your identity?
My husband and I both are academy grads and your language speaks to me. Thanks so much!
On my flight for deployment to Vietnam 1967, we stopped at Honolulu International Airport to pick up a group of Green Berets being re-deployed to Vietnam. Sitting next to me was a Staff Sergeant, I asked him,”Why are we going to Vietnam?”
The Government of North Vietnam thinks it is fight the United States, like it fought the French. They are fighting the United States Military. My objective is to destroy the Vietcong as my part of the mission of the United States. When we are done, I will be either dead or I will go home.
That was pretty clear to me. When my objective was complete I would be either dead or I would go home. I went home, my objective was never completed. Fifty years later my writing will complete my objective.
Ever since I first heard you reference this phrase, I’ve written it in a Post-It and put it by my desk. Love it.
I am a writer. I have a mission. Damn right, Devekut Ba Mesima. Every good wish and many thanks, Steven.
HELL YEAH AMEN
LUXURY is in the lungs and heart of the beholder
fix bayonets pens pencils brush ink sweat and love
“Complete the mission.” I love that. Savannah Dead, my 2nd novel just came out, & hacking my way to the finish line was a perilous journey. For some reason, “Resistance” was much more formidable during the writing of the second book. But I’m wound-up & ready to start down the path toward #3. It won’t be easy, but all I really have to do is Complete the Mission.
THANKS for sharing that Doug! That’s the spirit and determination we all must have to COMPLETE THE MISSION! And when it is complete, we begin again. THANKS to you and Steve
Long ago, my late mentor, Robert Terry, taught that a truly mature leader (or warrior) understands “it is insufficient to articulate what they are good at doing. Instead, the question will be whether what they are doing is any good. This question will force the issue of social responsibility to the forefront, challenging organizations to provide products or services that meet a standard of quality that goes beyond excellence.”–Robert Terry, “Authentic Leadership” (1993)
It is time to balance the lionizing of military warriors with inclusion of the moral responsibility they have in choosing their battles. Given the racist and murderous nature of the apartheid Israeli regime, your example is wanting, Mr. Pressfield. The unrest across the USA this past week, not to mention the authoritarian/neo-fascist Federal government, demonstrates it’s well past time to expand our definition of warrior and excellence in fulfilling a mission, i.e., a mission is not enough–we must ask: to what ends? How does the mission impact the greater community–our fellows?!
Some of those that work forces
Are the same that burn crosses
Killing in the name of…
Now you do what they told ya…
And now you do what they told ya…
Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
(Now you’re under control) And now you do what they told ya
—Rage Against the Machine “Killing in the Name” (1992)
Great post. Great comments. Uplifting!
Wow! What powerful Irony to read that now. After publishing “How to Live Forever: A Guide to Writing the Final Chapter of Your Life Story” got off to a good and timely start, COVID came and changed things….I know, for all of us. And while I know that the message of my book is so important, I keep hearing Steven Pressfield’s other side, “No One Wants to Read Your Sh@#$! Which does, of course, have a ton of truth. All that to say, even with slow progress, today I thought of throwing in the towel. Going back to something safe. Then I read this. Thank you.
A mission is not enough–we must listen more and ask: to what beginnings? How does the mission impact the greater community–Earthkind? And we read our metaphor’s in a mirror what do we see? “MESIMA BA DVEKUT ” Everything is Mission. There is a lot more to writing than life and death.
I just wanted to first of say hello to Steven my cousin that I didn’t have the pleasure of getting to know very well growing up mostly because of our age difference and distance, I do know my uncle Jimmy & aunt Annie your parents very well. Steven what an inspiration you are, I’m amazed at the words of encouragement you find not only for yourself but for others that are such powerful and meaningful that touch people in such a meaningful way. God bless you Steven, I’m very proud to call you my cousin. Love Sonya your family from California.
I love the metaphor. I find it can help to push myself physically – to court that angle of the discomfort too. Win the battle with self on a run or in the gym so that I can win it again sitting down in front of the computer trying to write.
Hey thank you Steve! Love it.
“Complete the mission”………we are warriors……..my name, Holly, even means “warrior” in my ancestral land, Scotland. Through research I have found that the “warriors” in my Clan Keith have all been women. One was even the Regent of Scotland for a short while. My life has been standing for Truth, forming a support group for the wives when the Marine husbands deployed thus saving the battalion from the many divorces and suicides that had happened in the past.. Recently, a large Housing Development company was trying to build on a beautiful park in my city……..we had already voted to stop the Developers but the City Council didn’t listen. We signed a petition, 20,000 of us, to stop the building. The City Council finally listened and stopped the Developers. Now we must “complete the mission”. Thank you, Steven. We are warriors!
There are certainly things worse than death that can happen to a writer, like madness or political oppression (if they are unlucky enough). But I strongly suspect that most people associate war with immediate physical danger. Resistance in your definition is too internal to compare. I myself feel more like a priest and that bothers me because at preaching I am as good as Rachel the rabbi.
Polarization mindset seems to be the theme throughout all your works. You versus it. A warrior mentality. Have you ever tried to write a book from the enemy’s perspective? Where the bad guy is the main character?
Resistance’s account of their mission.
Somehow the phrase “Glued to the Mission” just works for me.
I say that to myself and I’m back on track . . .
Love it Steve. Great advice. Thank You 🙂
A part of Turning Pro 🙂 S/F Steve, great reading as always!!
We are warriors. I think you should talk about it more, especially your time as a Marine.
Steven, thank you for cutting to the heart of the matter, for cutting past the noise. I bought both “The War of Art” and “Turning Pro” several years, ago, devoured both of them in a single sitting, then forgot about them. No, it wasn’t that they didn’t impact my thinking, it was more that they demanded more of me than I was willing to admit I *could* give. There’s that “who, me???” aspect to my thinking that’s meant I don’t always chase the goals I say I want.
And now, this year, right *now*, I’m finally in the place where I need change, where I’m willing to accept that I need *to change*, and where I’m actually determined to *make* change happen. Guess which two books came out of hiding?
It’s been quite the journey already, it feels like it’s all uphill, but I’m not giving up. This time, I’ll continue to slog uphill in the 36+ degree (us Canucks do Celsius, not the other) heat, and when I get to the top, I’m betting the view is going to be one heck of a lot better than it is here in the foothills!
Thank you for this. Thank you for empowering me each week to follow my own heart’s mission. ????
Thank you Steve and everyone who posted. Great reminder choose a good mission with expected outcomes. And remember the battle will begin again, such is life. I would like to add reflection. Taking a look back and gain strength from successes. Love, college, career. For me recently I had to gain strength learning to enjoy social distancing and staying home.
There is a proverb(or a joke): “When Jew lies? When he opens his mouth”.
Steven Pressfield is a great example of why there are such “jokes”.
He wrote the entire book based on cheap zionist propoganda completely ignoring the actual history(for example, USA sent to Palestine in support of Ashkenazi terrorists so many jets that USAF themselves begun to experience shortage; or the fact that most of the pilots were US citizens; or the fact that basically it was war of USA\UK\France\Germany(eg NATO) against Arabs or or or….).
As Joe Biden said “if Israel didn’t exist, we would’ve created one”. This phrase shows how empty all words and propganda of zionists is. They are no one – just a bunch of “regional rats”, which exitacne has only one purpose – to be a cover for all possible dirty actions of USA.
As an Ashkenazi colonist, terrorist supporter and simply a nazi, Steven has to spend his life to keep proving these zionist myths and fairy tails, he has to live with a hope that “fake it till you make it” sooner or later will finally “make it”.
It is also disgusting how you exploit people’s struggles in order to push your agendas. I honestly don’t know how ugliness like you and your kind sleep at night.
Speaking of wars and heroism – Ashkenazi zionists proved countless times that they’re a bunch of cowards. Any serious battle and they will run or cry about “anti-Semitism\Hitler\Nazis” etc. There was only one case when zionists were left alone – war against Hezbollah. Hezbollah, being outnumbered, outarmed and outsupported, obliterated zionists.
And Steven, while we all know how you love irrotionality, mysticism and being a drama queen, I suggest you to use common sense at least once in your life and look at lands that zionists were occupying in those days(and today), and look at the range of typical missile and bomb warhead, and on on the range of artillery. If Arabs really were going to wipe you out(as they should have), they would’ve acomplished it in a span of lunch time. The only reason it didn’t happen is USA’s politicial capital and pressure. As simple as that.
As a human being I will never accept zionizm in any form, never accept so-called “Jewish state” in any form and under any circumstances. I will support any violence worldwide against anyone who has any ties to zionizm and so-called “Jewish state”.
If somebody truly interested in a understading of the issue – just look at ISIS, this group addopted methods and ideology of zionizm verbatim, with only one difference – they faked Islam, zionists faked Judaism.
Finally, people like you are the reason why in near future Jews will be the most margenalized group of people in the world(and this time you guys should blame no one but yourself). Jews, as a group, has a very dark future. Not to mention that total liberation of Palestine it’s just a matter of time. Arabs will never “forget and forgive” your role in their dehumanization by UK, France and then by USA and for all this endless lie, deaths and simply robberies.
Steven, you’re just a bunch of immoral shameless thefts. No more, no less.