The Shadow in the Wilderness

Last week we talked about our passage “through the wilderness” being imbued with meaning, i.e. not random, not absurd, not shameful, not meaningless.

Let’s dive into this a little deeper.

In Turning Pro, I wrote about “shadow careers.”

Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead.  The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career.  

Are you getting your Ph.D. in Elizabethan Studies because you’re afraid to write the tragedies and comedies you know you have inside you?  Are you living the drugs-and-booze half of the musician’s life, without actually writing the music?  Are you working in a support capacity for an innovator because you’re afraid to risk being an innovator yourself?

If you’re dissatisfied with your current life, ask yourself what your current life is a metaphor for.

That metaphor will point you toward your true calling.

“The wilderness” is a shadow calling.

The reason our lost years are loaded with meaning is because they’re a metaphor. It’s not random that one person becomes addicted (nor is it random, what they become addicted to), while another abuses his spouse and children. Hidden in each shadow is the Dream. Hidden is who the Dreamer truly is, what his or her true calling really is.

My wilderness/shadow was driving over the road—trucks, cars, whatever wheel I could get behind. Driving for me was mileage. Numbers on an odometer. 

The (fake) idea that I was getting somewhere.

Ambition was my secret. I wanted to make something of myself. But I was too terrified to even realize it. So unconsciously I found a windshield to stare through and an accelerator to plant my foot on. 

The metaphor for me was mileage. It was delivering a load.

Trucks for me was the metaphor. Because with trucks it wasn’t just driving, it was delivering a load. People were waiting for me. They wanted what I was bringing. They were happy when they saw my headlights come around the corner.

I had no sense of this “in the wilderness.” No clue. We’re blind to the meaning in the moment. We’re addicted. We’re not just imprisoned, we’re self-imprisoned. But the meaning is right there, staring us in the face.

I have a friend who’s an addiction counselor. The first time we went out to breakfast, he leaned across the table and looked me deep in the eye. “Are you sober?” he asked. 

That was tremendously perceptive.

My friend saw the shadow in me. It isn’t alcohol, it’s self-sabotage. It’s Resistance. 

That’s the wilderness for me. The only difference between me at twenty-eight driving over the road and me now is I see it now.

The meaning was there all along. It just took me a passage through the wilderness to see it. 

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

63 Comments

  1. edgar van asselt on November 30, 2022 at 2:37 am

    Hear you Steven. Fun fact is, I even started my journey by going to business school. ‘Dad made me do it’, in a way. But hey, in a way he was right and the Bachelor in Applied Economics did come in handy in a few cases where my artistic endeavours were far from paying off. So I guess for me it’s a double edged sword. In a sense, that the shadow career provided a safety net to support me and my family where relying on my music alone just wasn’t an option. From another perspective, I kind of needed the shadow career because I wasn’t fully going ‘full throttle’ with my music in a sense I didn’t have the confidence to do only my own stuff with the people that match with me.

    I guess life gives us the opportunity to go into the shadows to discover we didn’t need to go there in the first place 🙂 I mean, if you learn the lesson hidden within each situation, you’ll often discover that what you really need was right in front of you all the time.

    • Sam on November 30, 2022 at 9:27 am

      Everything you said above, Edgar, but as a Special Education Instructor. Always a relief to hear it isn’t just me (us).

      ~Cheers

    • Melanie Ormand on November 30, 2022 at 9:42 am

      Sometimes the shadow brings the light. In the only way you can see.

      • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 12:26 pm

        Well said Melanie. Thought about this for a bit, and the shadow can actually orient us to the source of the light as well.

  2. Ben on November 30, 2022 at 3:26 am

    Mr. Pressfield (Steven), I read, but never comment on these until today. My BLUF history with you: I was a young Marine on my way to Afghanistan in 2001. I sat in the airport at Xania, Greece and I read GATES OF FIRE. My highlighter went dry, and I ran out of pencil for notes and underlines. I still serve today and have 26 years of Service. I’m retiring soon and I know that I’m flirting with the WILDERNESS. The problem: I don’t know what my calling is. Only thing I DO know is that punching numbers for someone else’s margin isn’t the finish line I want. I feel an aging warrior without a war.

    I read Do the Work before it was a book, I read your piece(s) on tribalism, and all the books, I’ve read it all, I think. I was reading your blog site when it was full of Ancient Greek works. My personal library is loosely based on this today.

    Thank you for pouring yourself into the books and other gems I’ve read all these years. The research, knowledge, and effort…all of it.

    THANK YOU

    Now to tackle with the faceless enemy of “Wilderness”.

    • Joe on November 30, 2022 at 3:49 am

      Good share, Ben. S/F

    • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      Ben,
      I agree with Joe, nicely said. ‘Gates of Fire’ was my introduction to SP as well. Career Soldier, retired 7 years ago. Found this blog 10-12 years ago, and it has been the most solid footing I’ve found outside of the Army.
      bsn

    • Steven Pressfield on November 30, 2022 at 12:51 pm

      Ben, just for fun, take a look at http://www.barbarianinyou.com. It’s by a fellow Marine, Ed Hinman (USNA grad), and it might shed a little light on the transition process when it comes.

      Semper Fi,
      Steve

  3. Gaylan D Scott on November 30, 2022 at 4:00 am

    Oh my …I am just starting this journey at age 59…and….I drive semi trucks for a living.
    Each and every time Steven goes into the metaphor explanation it’s like I am being singled out…and quite frankly….between that and a reintroduction to the Muse I am being constantly freaked the fuck out! In the best way possible.
    I wrote yesterday for the first time in my life with intent of unloading my brain…..prayed to a power greater than myself….worked out( finally back at it)and read a complete book…from cover to cover.
    Thanks for letting me share

    • Jackie on November 30, 2022 at 5:58 am

      Gaylan, check out the company.
      Verdi at 74 produced his masterpiece, Othello; at 80 Falstaff, and at 85, the famous Ave Maria, Stabet Mater, and Te Deum.
      Oliver Wendell Holmes at 79 wrote Over the Teacups.
      Cato at 80 began the study of Greek.
      Tennyson at 83 wrote “Crossing the Bar.”
      Titian at 98 painted his historic picture of the Battle of Lepanto.
      And a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes: To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.

      • Gene C on November 30, 2022 at 8:30 am

        Thank you Jackie. Great reminder for those of us with longer tooths.

      • Kat on November 30, 2022 at 9:06 am

        Thanks Jackie,
        As I begin my 70th year, this quote has just the words I needed. I will post it on my drawing board.

        • Jackie on November 30, 2022 at 10:08 am

          I’m reminded of two talented women I was honored to know. Celie began painting at age 64. Her work was beautiful. When she lost her sight, Celie took up abstract painting. At Harriet’s 100th birthday party she held a stack of photos larger than a deck of cards. Her fear? That she would die before she painted every one of the photos. Be wary of who tells you what you are capable of doing. Many times it’s not society but yourself.

      • Gaylan D Scott on November 30, 2022 at 10:40 am

        Thank you Jackie! Needed to hear that at the beginning

      • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 12:38 pm

        Jackie,
        You’re a champ! Well said.
        bsn

    • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 12:37 pm

      Gaylen,
      I was thinking something similar to Jackie.
      Steve himself didn’t publish “The Legend of Bagger Vance” until 1995.
      Pete Carrol, while an NFL coach (obviously its own degree of success) didn’t begin to win until he was in his 50s at USC.
      Steve Jobs returned to Apple when he was 52, and set the course for the first $trillion company.
      Countless others who made their marks with thinning, gray hair, and more hair in ears than on their heads…

      I have come to think of the previous years as building combat power.

      I hope you’ve read the rest of the comments to see you’re in good company.
      bsn

      • Gaylan D Scott on November 30, 2022 at 7:20 pm

        Brian..
        I am amazed! I had no idea what I was getting into when I opened the email this morning.
        I have gone back and read as many of the Wednesday writers as I could find mostly to go through the comments.
        Learning how to read and absorb what others are sharing is going to be invaluable to me.
        After hearing his latest podcast with Joe r. My mind exploded with possibilities, and the learning curve is going to be exciting!
        …thanks for letting me share
        Gds

  4. Francesca on November 30, 2022 at 4:48 am

    A businessman, a warrior, a truck driver…and me, recently retired from pelvic floor physical therapy – a job healing the foundation if you will. What do we all have in common? Your words resonate! Fascinating.

  5. Silvia A Brandon-Perez on November 30, 2022 at 4:50 am

    It’s 4:30 in the morning in Northern California and I fell asleep once again out of physical and mental exhaustion with all the lights on and woke to this…Your truck rolled over my life… I am almost 74 and writing to save my life but mostly not publishing because I have this and that to do first. But miles to go before I sleep… Almost dying of COVID-19 and pneumonia made me sort of wake up. Your truck lights …

    Thank you thank you thank you.

  6. Daniel on November 30, 2022 at 4:51 am

    In the wilderness: “Five Easy Pieces” (1970). Dir. Bob Rafelson. Screenplay: Carole Eastman. Jack Nicholson, Karen Black.

  7. Olya Nova on November 30, 2022 at 5:06 am

    I was a graphic designer for years (one of my shadow careers) and then I became a mom (also thought it was my calling), later I wanted to be a fitness influencer, a nutritionist, etc. All of these shadow careers seemed so important at the moment and kept me occupied from really asking myself what I was here for. I wanted to be a commercial photographer, and I knew it in my 20s, but I found so many excuses not to even try this path. It took me another 20 years to “wake up”. I just turned 40 in September and I finally quit all my shadow careers and focusing on the one that was always there for me. I have no idea if I can make it work, if it’s going to be profitable at all or I have to get a second job, but I finally know that I will be okay. I finally let myself to realize what my true calling is. Thank you, Steven! I’m so grateful for Rich Roll’s podcast, this is where I found out about you and your books! It was a life changing event!

    • Kate Stanton on November 30, 2022 at 6:07 am

      You’re in the right direction, Olya.

      “Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.” –Carl Jung (Shadow work)

      • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 12:39 pm

        Kate,
        I have never heard that Jungian quote before, now it is going on a 3×5 card on my desk. Thanks!
        bsn

  8. Steve on November 30, 2022 at 5:47 am

    Fabulous shares everyone.

  9. Kate Stanton on November 30, 2022 at 6:01 am

    My eyes water because Steve has tapped into a truth that I have run away from for so long. UGH!! Steve! Why must you hold us accountable, coach! Phew, just kidding. I love getting my ass handed to me in this way. It’s why I return each week.

    This post is incredibly relatable to most of us I imagine. If accountability, taking inventory, and admitting our faults lead to healing and wholeness, let me be frank:

    Steve drove. Olya woke up. Gaylan was “freaked the fuck out”. Yep. Yep. Yep. I feel ya.

    I’m a runner. I shut down and shut people out. I pull up my big girl pants and pout my lip telling everyone with a tot foot stomp–“I can do it myself!!”. I STILL rebel from a controlling environment. I need a shit ton of space and freedom to “do it myself” because so many people belittled me growing up. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, fast enough, ya know–Stuart Smalley skit shit.

    Time to OWN it. Too bad–I am me. Owning my truth, faults & all. <3
    Have a beautiful week–I sincerely mean that to each and every one of you. Thank you Steve.

    • Kelly S. on December 6, 2022 at 9:30 pm

      for a split second I thought I wrote those last 2 paragraphs, but it was you, LOL!

  10. Beth on November 30, 2022 at 6:03 am

    I was just about to unsubscribe from your newsletter because I really have too much in my inbox and am trying to weed. But for some reason I read instead. I’m glad I did. It has me curious about my current circumstances. Something isn’t quite right. Something hasn’t clicked yet.

  11. Jackie on November 30, 2022 at 6:26 am

    Many times we are braver in our shadow careers. Why? It’s easy. There’s not as much at stake. No risk.
    The calling? You risk everything. You prepare for battle everyday. Against yourself. “I’m a fraud. People will find me out. My work sucks.” And on and on. We move forward one sword fight at a time. We gain ground only to lose it.
    In his novel, The Winners, Fredrick Backman wrote, “Only impossible battles feel worth the trouble.” Personally, I left behind a body of work where excellence had bosses try to lure me back. The jobs weren’t worth the trouble.
    One day, working in the rain and covered in mud, I asked, “Is this what You want me to do with my life?” I risked a lightening strike because I questioned the direction I was sent. The calling was the right way. Maps were provided. Writing Wednesdays is on the GPS.
    If I get anything out of this wilderness journey, it may be that I will die as a damn optimistic person who still believes in magic.
    May you live all the days of your life.-Jonathan Swift (Today’s quote on my Snoopy calendar). Wishing all a great week.

    • Kate Stanton on November 30, 2022 at 6:57 am

      Very wise words, Jackie. Reminds me of a recent convo I had with a music mentor. We both share a love of Joni Mitchell. Did you know she is a painter first? She only did music to pay the bills. Crazy as she’s an amazing poet and songwriter. Her calling was visual art and she ran from it and played music. As she got older, she started to paint more and more. Makes me wonder if the “big picture” plan uses those shadow careers to our advantage. Steve was in a huge moving think tank and I wonder if he didn’t have that experience in the semi, would he have been able to write such poignant self-help books for artists? If Joni didn’t sing, would she have ever had the courage to paint? I don’t know…it’s just a thought. We need the dark & the light. Embracing a shadow self!

      • Jackie on November 30, 2022 at 7:52 am

        Kate, I think you may be on the right track. The shadow careers may help us build the muscle we need to take on the “big work”. Someone told me that I couldn’t do what was in my heart at the time, art. It took years for me to stop believing them and to believe in myself. I said screw it. One life to live. I painted on my own, learning when and where I could. It was hard. But eventually, I landed a job with an architect on a church remodel. Best financial job of my life. I loved to show up at work. I never would have put myself out there had I not been handed the struggle first. When the call to write popped into my head, I questioned,”Are You sure You didn’t mean artist? I have all the brushes and paint.” Writing is hard. With writing, I am building on that muscle achieved by painting. Joni, you rock.

        • Lin Keeling on November 30, 2022 at 10:54 am

          I think you’re right, Kate, she needed both and we need both the light and the dark. And Jackie we do build muscle through our ‘shadow’ careers. I got started in music as a child and then switched to visual art because I realized that the music is what lets me see color. Then, I decided I needed to go to school to be an ART-ist (not true but live and learn). and gravitated to anthropology because I thought I could learn about other types of art, more like mine, there. By the time I finished, people were asking where I was going to grad school, so I went. Dropping my application in the post box, I knew it wasn’t what I should be doing. I felt no fear, no risk. Knew that it was going to happen, and I’d do well, but I wasn’t invested. Got my MA, started teaching and thinking about getting a PhD and just couldn’t do it. Knew I’d never be happy.

          But I built some great muscles during those years. Learned to write well, teach well, even do online teaching–which is not anything like teaching in person. And now I’m building an online school in coiled basketry, working on books about my work, using the lessons learned, the muscles built while doing those ‘shadow careers’. Like you, Jackie, I fought becoming a writer. My work was about color and non-verbal communication, not black and white words. I think like Joni Mitchell–love her poetry and her harmonies!!–we both probably need the color and the words to say what we need to say. Why should we limit our creative expression to one medium? We should use whatever we have, everything we’ve learned, to say what we need to say.

          • Jackie on November 30, 2022 at 11:05 am

            Lin, wise words, use everything we’ve learned, to say what we need to say. Thanks.



    • Gene C on November 30, 2022 at 8:47 am

      Great comment again, Jackie. I needed to hear your words. You have a real gift. THANK YOU.

    • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 12:46 pm

      Kate/Lin/Jackie,
      You ladies nailed it today. Such wisdom. Much appreciated. I’ve often fantasized about a ‘Writing Wednesday’s’ in-person weekend seminar. As much as I love to talk–in this company I am often much more content to sit back, observe, and absorb all he wisdom, kindness, love, and compassion I see here. I’ve thought how much I would love to shake hands, hug, chat with everyone–and after reading today’s posts between you three–this fantasy has me sitting like a fly on a wall just soaking it all in.
      bsn

  12. Brian Patrick on November 30, 2022 at 6:34 am

    Thank you, sir.

    I look forward to Writing Wednesdays.

  13. Tony on November 30, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Like many of the responders, my brain resonated with the Writing Wednesday message today. Maybe it was the insightful explanation about the truck driving that made me swallow hard. Like the first responder (Edgar?), I went to business school (MBA) thinking I would accelerate into my calling. But then I spent the next 25+ years in multiple shadow careers — all of which either “kicked me out” or imploded from within. In the last five years I have been a successful “innovation supporter” instead of pursuing my own innovation calling. I have at least learned enough from wise mentors like Steve to continue stumbling forward to the next innovation. I definitely feel like I might be onto something with startup business #5. However my journey seems to imply we are likely to go through multiple wildernesses until we either reach satisfaction or death. Frankly I am fine with either of these phases. I have resolved myself to keep traveling through as many wildernesses as Fate/Divine/Muse requires of me. Thanks for your perseverance of storytelling, Steve.

  14. Chantilly on November 30, 2022 at 9:49 am

    I am very grateful that I am not alone in the Wilderness.

  15. Jesse Passmore on November 30, 2022 at 9:57 am

    So pointedly relevant to my life. Thank you Mr. Pressfield.

  16. Maureen Anderson on November 30, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Has anyone seen Stutz, the documentary Jonah Hill did with his therapist?

    https://www.netflix.com/tudum/articles/stutz-the-tools

    It made me realize I spent the first thirty years of my life in one maze before swapping that out for an almost identical maze for the next thirty years. While not necessarily a shadow career, I certainly made a career out of chasing people around those mazes! I wanted so much for them to like me and to think I had as much right to be here as they did.

    I was tempted to think, “Wow. What a waste of a life.” After reading this post I’m hopeful I can make something beautiful out of being lost in the wilderness for so long.

    • Lin Keeling on November 30, 2022 at 11:07 am

      You will, Maureen. Everything is compost–and sometimes feels like that’s all it is–until it fertilizes something amazing.

    • Kate Stanton on November 30, 2022 at 12:03 pm

      Maureen! Stutz has been in my list along with 1899 for a few weeks now on Netflix. Your post has given me the nudge to watch it later. <3 I think each and every person deserves a therapist just as they have a primary care physician. We must protect every facet of our being–physical health, mental health, and spiritual.

  17. Sam Luna on November 30, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Today’s post and comments are timely for me (as usual.) Yesterday morning an old boss and later friend of mine died. He was a well known chef in the mid-90’s, when I worked for him as a waiter in high school. He was an older, accomplished man to me at the time — 46, the age I am now. Intense, talented, cruel, drunk, all the usual chef stuff. 

    The summer after my first year away from home I returned and took up my old job to save money. The restaurant was now a disaster. He closed it that year, and never opened another one. He descended into a shadow career he never came out of — making handmade jewelry, and drinking. He visited me a few years ago here in L.A. and I tried to keep up with him as we crawled the bars downtown — impossible. He was still handsome, still full of great stories and still an impeccable dresser — but was, well, a shadow of his former self.

    I think about what he might have done from age 46 to his death yesterday besides getting drunk and living on disability. What he might have accomplished in any of those years. How can somebody declare themselves “done” at 46? I feel like I’m just getting started. The truth is my friend didn’t die yesterday — he died a long time ago. 

    • Kate Stanton on November 30, 2022 at 12:08 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about that, Sam. So many of us become shadows to please others–to fall into easy patterns. The path of least resistance. This is why Steve’s message of Resistance ain’t going away is so potent. FIGHT. Fight back. When you’re tired, you rest but don’t quit type of thing. We’ve been bitten by the “creativity bug” and it won’t go away even if we try to.

      Your post hit me hard. I often joke that I am a recovering people-pleaser. The truth is, recovery isn’t a straight road. Rejection stings, but not as bad as the sting on your death bed wishing you would have just tried and (maybe failed?) or maybe succeeded? Even if my music fails, the likeminded people I’ve been meeting along the way are well worth it. This community has proven it to me.

    • Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      Sam,
      Your post hit me like a titanium-tipped high-explosive round to the chest. “…-he died a long time ago.”

      That is the stuff of nightmares for sure. I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I had a similar experience going home after my first year in the Army. We partied it up like the ‘old days’, and I knew nothing was ever going to change for me there. It was a shallow and empty attempt at reconnection.

      Truth is, 35+ years later, I’m still in touch with these guys. We’ve all pulled our heads out of our asses, and made somewhat productive lives. There is one buddy who continues to smoke, drink, and talk to us like it was 1987–but those conversations always leave me feeling sad.

      Again, I’m so sorry to read about your loss. Thank you for sharing. I’m 53 and have a pension. The lure to ‘slide into mediocrity’ is palpable at times for me, so your post not only left a sucking chest-wound, it was a 33 degree bucket of water tossed in my face.
      bsn

      • Sam Luna on November 30, 2022 at 2:11 pm

        Kate & bsn — thanks. I think today’s comments regarding success later in life are not so much for me “hang on — you’ll get yours one day” — they’re more “don’t check out too early.”

        Or, to quote Al in “Deadwood” — “Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair, or f***ing beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man, and give some back.”

  18. Joe Jansen on November 30, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    On the topic of truck-driving former Marines… I came across Wayne Stinnett a couple years ago. I follow him on social media and have read some of his work. Talk about somebody lacing up his books, picking up his lunchbox, and going to work, this guy is living it.

    This former Marine artilleryman was driving a truck when he got sick of following other people’s direction. In his author bio (https://waynestinnett.com/the-author/),he says he “came across the old floppy discs that held the short stories he’d written nearly thirty years earlier. At the urging of his wife and a number of friends, he began writing his first novel, working at night in the sleeper of the truck in whatever truck stop he found himself.”

    He says that he doesn’t think he’s necessarily “a great writer” (crime novels set in South Florida and the Caribbean, self-publishing them on Amazon). His first novel sold all of 23 copies. His next one sold 100 copies. And he just kept at it, like a grunt. I just looked on his website and see he’s written 34 novels.

    He talks a little about his experience here: https://youtu.be/Oix5XTILX3I

    As Jackie and Brian point out above, it helps to see the names of people who just kept at it. This guy is another example.

    • Sam Luna on November 30, 2022 at 2:15 pm

      “And he just kept at it, like a grunt.” Writing that down …

    • Gaylan D Scott on November 30, 2022 at 7:32 pm

      Kate,
      I hear ya loud n clear! I am also a runner.
      I use my job and work as an escape.
      It gives me a reason to isolate!!
      I am looking for ways to get me out of isolation, and hold me accountable to something other than work.
      I am learning to own IT..
      thanks for letting me share
      Gds

    • Gaylan D Scott on November 30, 2022 at 7:37 pm

      Joe,
      This hit like a Mack truck.
      As I read this I am at a random truckstop in the sleeper of my truck.and today I have found more inspiration than I have almost in my entire life!
      More to come …thanks I will look up Wayne
      Thanks for letting me share
      Gds

  19. Tolis Alexopoulos on November 30, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you dear Steve,

    the passage and the article seem to be very parallel to my current situation. A shadow career crossed my road, and it is SO multiple and divergent. It is almost all the tools Resistance can use: force me, tempt me, make me flow in an indifferent channel, satiate me, even make me sick for some days (something like a short term Resistance, which can accumulate together with other long term Resistances to facilitate the Death of a Dream), and steal my Time and Energy (which are the two vessels of the Creator). Thankfully, the temptations are not extremely addictive, and they all have a quite short deadline. BUT I can see Resistance rubbing her hands and laughing sarcastically as it awaits the chance to terminate the Right Road.

    The metaphor is a beautiful concept: the fact that within our shadow careers hides our true one, our Soul’s career (that can be a beautiful title.) Indeed, our every movement in life comes from our deeper energy, the soul – it’s just that in the journey it’s reflected and distorted a million times because of the inner shadows.

    I can ask myself what is the metaphor here, in my new shadow career. I can use the new conditions as vessels towards the soul’s career. I am sure it is possible.

    I will go to sleep with that in mind. And tomorrow I’ll creep again to the shadow, hoping that the strange kind of hero that my soul is related to will somehow acknowledge and activate itself through the misty, unseen passages of a mandane job.

    There is only some good news:

    If this doesn’t stop us (the final attack of Resistance that is powerful), then we become Unstoppable.

    My best wishes!

    • Lin Keeling on November 30, 2022 at 2:59 pm

      “I will go to sleep with that in mind. And tomorrow I’ll creep again to the shadow, hoping that the strange kind of hero that my soul is related to will somehow acknowledge and activate itself through the misty, unseen passages of a mandane job.” Beautiful, Tolis!

  20. Anne Marie on November 30, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Another great post! And thanks to all who commented about the ages of various creative souls – that is encouraging! I read in one sitting on the front stoop with the sun streaming down on a beautiful and unusually warm November day, Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be and then I gave it to one of my nieces who is another Pressfield fangirl. 🙂 God bless you, Steven, and thanks so much for shining the light of truth with those bright headlights of yours.

  21. Brian Nelson on November 30, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Today’s post and comments hit me like the first time I read “War of Art”. So powerful. So true.

    “Are you sober?” Yikes! Another sucking chest wound.

    Sobriety isn’t just about intoxicants (for me at least) like Steve implied. Video games. Fiction. Current events. Food. Consumerism. Fixing the ‘outside’ (cleaning, mowing, raking, organizing, PT) while ignoring the inside. Whatever can momentarily assuage the ache inside. Resistance is drunk, sobriety is turning pro.

    “All of men’s troubles stem from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blasé Pascal said that before our nation existed. I have and often do resemble that remark.

    The haunting thoughts about being too old, wasting too much time, a shadow career that took ‘the best years’.

    The irony for me with shadow careers is that I have never really fit in any job. I’m always an outlier. Round peg square hole. It never once occurred to me in those careers that I was being called for something different. I battled Resistance even while in shadow vocations, always wondering why others seemed to ‘fit in’. Sadly, I’ve envied those who can simply color the chiclets (what we called our slides for command & staff meetings), write the meaningless reports, train for war with decades old doctrine (cuz that’s what the Army wants…).
    bsn

    Resistance is the other side of creativity. In my recent years with a pension, I have often thought, “Fuck it. Just get a job…” I know that is akin to suicide for me. Another avenue to distract me from the ember inside.

    Maybe we’re all playing with fire. This ember can be harnessed and focused like an oven, or turn into a forest fire consuming everything/one in its path.

    Looks like I”m stuck with this ember. Cannot remove it. Either focus it, or let it consume me.

    • Lin Keeling on November 30, 2022 at 3:02 pm

      I’ve done the ‘just get a job’ thing, Brian. I loved the job actually but quit my job for my health and my sanity. Don’t do it!! You have the ‘luxury’ of not needing to work to live so you can live to do the work you’re meant to do.

  22. Carl Francis Penders on November 30, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Steve, I’ve spent my years in the wilderness. 20 of them, selling things for other people. A career measured mainly by mediocrity. I’ve been reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra since it came out in 95 I believe. And in 2001 when coming upon the question in the book “What would you do if you had all the time in the world and money was of no concern?” I started hearing a voice saying I would write. I referred to it then as a whisper. As the years progressed the whisper became louder. And I dreaded coming upon that question in the book as my reading and studies continued. In 2006 the sales career collapsed. I was about to be fired. Again. I found myself wandering around the afternoon I knew it was all over, asking myself “What’ll I do?” It wasn’t long before the answer came when I heard myself saying “I’ll write.” In 2008 the Dunkirk Observer ran my first story. For $30.00. And I became a paid, professional writer. Today my first submission to The New Yorker was turned down. Regardless I’ll write. And oh yes, I consider the collapse of the sales career to be divine intervention.

  23. Yvonne on December 1, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    Steve, I have nothing to say about this post other than WOW on so many aspects. I love this.
    And I’m loving all the comments on the post, too.

  24. Cecelia Fresh on December 2, 2022 at 11:16 am

    Amazing, Steve! Love the correlation regarding shadow selves/addiction/self-sabotage. The other morning I had a very vivid dream and gleaned from the dream that perhaps we get our truest “gifts,” from our fathers – whatever it is that our calling or purpose is. My father was a mechanic by trade, so he used his hands. I’m a former PR pro, turned full-time “pro” writer. I also use my hands. My mother’s father was an alcoholic/semi-truck driver/country western signer and song writer. She has an amazing command of English language, spelling etc. So, yep, it ALL tracks and makes so much sense now. 🙂 Incredible!

  25. Gwen on December 6, 2022 at 5:54 am

    I am a woman of a certain age admitting that all the years between acknowledging the fact that I CAN write a novel and the reality of actually writing a novel someone wants to read – have, in no small way, been the best thing that’s ever happened. Those years were spend married, parenting, teaching, traveling, writing, and above all, observing human nature. And now, I sit refusing to read the ‘act your age’ memo some get when they think they’re too old for something. There are always lessons in the “wilderness.”

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