“Most of us have two lives,” writes Stephen Pressfield. “The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
In his classic book, The War of Art, Pressfield animizes the internal battle that keep us from pursuing our aspirations:
“Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator and the shark in Jaws. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power, It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack. This is Resistance’s nature. It’s all it knows.”
What Pressfield calls Resistance, I like to think of as a Dream Tax. We all pay taxes and probably would like to pay less, or perhaps none at all. But we know, too, that taxes are collected to serve a purpose. Resistance, in this sense, is unalterably destructive. Alternatively, taxes may be unwelcome but can bring value.
Whether you call it Resistance or a Dream Tax, could this battle you face to pursue your dream serve a larger purpose in your life as well? Is there any possible advantage to a dream tax?
Recently, I read a passage in Exodus that seemed to address this question. God had led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt. They witnessed some pretty remarkable stuff. Staffs became snakes. Water turned to blood. Frog, gnats, flies, locusts, boils, hail and darkness everywhere (except where the Israelites lived). And they saw the mighty army of Egypt that was pursuing them engulfed by the Red Sea they had just crossed as if on dry land. Could anything now stand in their way to the Promised Land?
Indeed, the promise was certain. “See I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20). Imagine what confidence you would have felt hearing these words: “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run” (Exodus 23:27). Sounds like Resistance just got neutered.
Resistance, like the Alien, the Terminator, or the shark in Jaws, dies in the end. So, let’s move out. Nothing can stop us now! No Hivite, Canaanite, or Hittite can possibly stand in our way.
However, catch these next words: “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:29-30).
Could it be that the internal battle you feel about your dream is part of a greater plan until you have increased enough to take possession of it?
The next time you feel discouraged about your progress toward your dream, remember that there actually is a dream tax advantage. That resistance you’re experiencing is there to keep the dream alive and strong until you’ve grown enough to possess it.
What advantages have you experienced from the resistance you’ve faced?