The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Before I got to North Carolina I worked in the oilfields around Buras, Louisiana. I lived in a bunkhouse with a bunch of other transient geeks. One guy had picked up a paperback about meditation in a bookstore in New Orleans; he was teaching me how to do it. I used to go out to this dock after work and see if I could get into it. One night this came:

I was sitting cross-legged when an eagle came and landed on my shoulders. The eagle merged with me and took off flying, so that my head became its head and my arms its wings. It felt completely authentic. I could feel the air under my wings, as solid as water feels hen you row it with an oar. It was substantial. You could push off against it. So this was how birds flew! I realized that it was impossible for a bird to fall out of the sky.; all it would have to do was extend its wings; the solid air would hold it up with the same power we feel when we stick our hand out the window of a moving car. I was pretty impressed with this movie that was playing in my head but I still had no idea what it meant. I asked the eagle, Hey, what am I supposed to be learning from this? A voice answered (silently): You’re supposed to learn that things that you think are nothing, as weightless as air, are actually powerful substantial forces, as real and as solid as earth.

I understood. The eagle was telling me that dreams, visions, meditations such as this very one – things that I had till now disdained as fantasy and illusion – were as real and as solid as anything in life.

Last night, this passage came alive to me.

Katie and I were driving back from Wichita Falls when a Janis Joplin song, Me and Bobby McGee, came on the radio. Something about classic rock prompts an exhilarating sense of freedom, so  I quickly turned off the air conditioner and rolled down both of our windows as we traveled 75 miles per hour on an empty, flat stretch of highway.

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’ don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no
And feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
You know, feelin’ good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee

I stuck my hand out the window like I did when I was young, rotating my palm inward to feel the wind push my hand down and outward to feel its power. I couldn’t help but to think of Pressfield’s observation.

We’re facing resistance all of the time. It’s mostly manifested in things we don’t see. It’s not until we put our hand out the car window on a stretch of highway that we begin to understand that the very thing that keeps us alive is powerful enough to stop us in our tracks. This idea transcends our desires, efforts, relationships, work, and everything else in this world. When that is our base of understanding, it creates the sense of freedom that’s prompted by a forty year old song on a warm evening in Spring.

Like an eagle flying high with extended wings, learn to use resistance in your favor. Understand that it’s not there to hurt you, but rather to guide you so that one day you’ll be able to look back and say, I’ve learned everything that God wanted me to learn. That’s the difference between allowing your hand to be blown backward by an invisible force or turning it inward ever so slightly to allow the unseen to guide you.


4 Responses

  1. yeah…i am a Janis Joplin fan. When I lived in Austin, TX in the late 60’s we use to go to Threadgill’s! (left in 1970) I didn’t hear/see a live performance as she was “touring” most of the time. She did visit Austin for Treadgill’s birthday party but I had already packed my bags. I have a few lp’s..just saved them because of the album covers.

    Enjoyed your post. Thanks BK

    1. I’m jealous on the account that you lived in Austin. I’d love to spend a few seasons there. Bummer that you didn’t get to see her live.

      I’ve been interested in collecting records for some time now, but I haven’t invested the time in finding a cheap record player. Modern players are pretty pricey.

  2. We inherited a one of a kind sound system when he(son) went to college. He didn’t want us to save or return it. We saved it, put a diamond needle in and works great.I UNDERSTAND THE SOUND IS DIFFERENT when played via a blue ray device .But there is a familiar sound that comes from playing lp’s on a good record player. Especially if the record is warped. HA

  3. I love the fact that you could piece together all of these “random” events to mean something and learn. It really helps me to see how everything works together for a purpose.

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