Dancing with Fear

Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906. The photograph...

Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906. The photograph is a publicity photograph illustrating Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire in a vaudeville act entitled “A Rainy Saturday”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hills above my town are filled with trails for running and hiking. Rolling green hills, creeks, and beautiful canyons invite the adventure seeker. By day, its beauty pops and inspires, by night, it is hidden in the mysterious shadows, barely visible in the moonlight. What made me decide to shake things up and run into the dark? Forty dollar headlamps and a desire to conquer my fear. Running this the first time, two years ago was scary. Today, it’s a walk in the park.

 

Fear comes in many shapes and forms. Physical fear of the dark, inner city gas stations, or rattle snakes is your body’s way of protecting itself from dangers. Seth Godin refers to the Lizard Brain, the amygdala. This is the survival portion of your brain that only cares about the NOW and protecting you from immediate dangers. In our civilized society, we don’t face the same dangers humans did a million years ago. Our brains, however, don’t know the difference. Stephen Pressfield wrote about the Lizard Brain in a his brilliant work “The War of Art”. He calls it the resistance. I have written extensively about this subject throughout this blog. The resistance lurks in the comfort zone of your psyche, trying to pull you away from greatness and into the safety of mediocrity. Your brain works much like a parent who in an effort to protect his child from embarrassment or disappointment tells him not to try out for the school play. Like a child, we tend to listen to our Lizard Brain/resistance. Sometimes, like a rebellious teenager, we push away the resistance and end up with something amazing. Pressfield has articulated one of the most fulfillment zapping phenomenon in modern history; writers’ block, procrastination, distraction, self-doubt etc. Whatever shape or form you may experience, you WILL see the resistance. Pressfield suggests a WAR; a fight. Perhaps he’s missing an opportunity to dance.
In his recent work, Seth Godin challenges the notion of a “war”, in which we challenge the resistance. He instead, suggests that we must dance with it. I nearly drove the car off the side of the road (listened on Audio) when I heard this. The WAR concept is etched in stone in the creative world. Godin, however, is becoming the William Wallace of creative battles. Perhaps, instead, he would rather be the Fred Astaire. A day of writing without distraction is typically considered a good day. Not anymore:
The resistance (in its many forms) doesn’t show up when we are busy average.
I have never procrastinated sleeping in. Never has my Facebook exploration been interrupted by the desire to pray, or write, or do something meaningful. The opposite, of course, is a daily occurrence. The resistance, like the oppressive government in The Hunger Games, only comes after threats to the status quo. All the other “things” are safely locked behind a fence, unable to affect change. If working toward your fulfillment does not yield any resistance, no “Peacekeepers” coming in the night to take you away, there is no threat to the status quo.

Unless your status quo is complete fulfillment and you’ve achieved everything you were designed for, “status quo” is “status NO”.

You must pose a threat to invite the resistance. Start making progress and you’ll see resistance in its many forms lurking. Mother Theresa faced almost an entire lifetime of spiritual dryness known as the Dark Night of the Soul. The warm and fuzzy we get when we go to church was replaced with numbness. Mother Teresa was a real threat to the status quo of the poor being poor, body and soul in Calcutta. She did not fight the resistance, she danced with it, and many souls are dancing toward heaven for it. Replace the warm and fuzzy, the desire to do something else, the urge to question your ability, with the new dance of fulfillment. It’s coming whether you like it or not. Give up now and be average or put on your dancing shoes! Embrace the desire to procrastinate. If you feel it, you’re on to something. Welcome the inner voice that says you’re not good enough. Laugh a giddy laugh at the desire to check Facebook while your halfway through marathon training. You are a threat to the status quo. That, my friends, is moving the needle toward awesomeness.
I overslept and almost didn’t write this article today thinking inspiration will be here tomorrow. I chose to dance instead of procrastinate. How will you dance today?
Rocco De Leo
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About Rocco De Leo

I am Rocco DeLeo. For years, I felt like I had so much more to offer the world than simply going to work and coming home. While I've always found my work to be engaging and rewarding, I knew I had much more to offer. Over the last few years, I've started focusing on personal development, my relationship with God, and what to do next. I write and podcast (And Dad Makes 7 Podcast) at www.roccodeleo.com about this journey. Mostly, I enjoy sharing the struggle, but sometimes I find some wisdom to share. My wife Jamie and I are raising a blended family with 5 children. Thankfully she stays home. When I'm not creating, I'm usually running trails, fishing with my kids, or enjoying a cigar in my backyard.

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