The dream tax advantage

“Most of us have two lives,” writes Stephen Pressfield. “The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

The Dream Tax Advantage


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?

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6 thoughts on “The dream tax advantage

  1. Leary,

    Great post today. I got to thinking about the difference between the media storyline of an overnight success and the blood sweat and tears version from behind the scenes. Success may become apparent to others in a venture only at the outcome stage and so it appears that this “new” company was an overnight success. What often gets lost is how many previous projects and companies the founder had tried and failed or only experienced the bare minimum of success. And, yet he or she learned a few lessons, healed from a few wounds and found courage to try again.

    For many, especially Christians there is joy in the journey and growth the process. Anyway thanks for reminding me that those battles along the way and overcoming the resistance is incredibly important to our character development.

    • Thanks Mike. You are absolutely right. We are so conditioned now to only see the highlights of success, not the mundane sweat that comes from day-after-day slogging it out. Television programs and movies are resolved for us in a sitting and even the posts we read (and leave) in our Facebook stream are largely flashes of our success or brilliant observations. If that’s all we see, what other conclusion could we draw that success for us should come as easily as it appears it does for others?

      Thanks for your excellent contribution to the post.

  2. Leary,

    I, like many others I imagine, have spent numerous years in mundane jobs punching the clock day after day. Even though you hear cliches like, “God has something bigger in store” and that it all will work for good in the end, the drudgery of the daily grind can become overwhelming.

    Just recently I had an Aha moment where God showed me how all the training pieces from those seemingly meaningless jobs are coming together to form my skill set for my career. It was as if God turn on the light to the closet of the past showing where he had laid each brick in the foundation and planned out the whole path ahead of time.

    How refreshing to know that God prepared me for just a time as this. I am in the perfect center of the production He has orchestrated.


  3. Thanks Leary,

    I appreciate you encouraging us to catch the words in Exodus 23:29-30. I love this glimpse of God intersecting with his creation. It is pretty interesting to ponder “Little by little … until you have increased …”


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