Resistance Slut

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Yesterday I made a decision to take a hike up to the top of Te Mata Peak.  It’s the most exhilarating 360-degree view I’ve ever experienced.  As you ascend, your soul takes flight with the view.  The majestic hills to your right, the glistening Pacific to your left miles away, you get up there and nearly hyperventilate from nature’s gobsmacking perfect beauty.  It’s so otherworldly you could just weep.

Now, here’s something I’m sorry to admit: I’ve lived just down the road from this view for the last ten months and I’ve only hiked this a few times, gosh dang it.

Yes, I am an ungrateful, unworthy nimwit.  A total cop out coward for not making time for this view every single day of my life while in New Zealand.  But yesterday, I told my knucklehead self, it wasn’t too late.  I could still make the most of this view for every single day I’m still here.

So that was that.  There was no arguing with that thought.  No sooner had I thought it did I committ to hiking the peak every day for the next ten days.  Rain or shine.

Fast forward a day.

This morning wasn’t awake but ten seconds before I remembered my grand idea.  I rolled over, acutely aware of the warmth of the bed, the softness of the down comforter, the quietness of the entire world, still probably sound asleep.  It was all telling me that what I said yesterday was no better than a promise made by a drunkard: it didn’t count.  But deep down, I knew it was too late to change my mind.  I’m doing this.  I said I would and now I’m going to.  If I don’t, I’ll regret it for weeks or years and probably maybe even forever.

Slightly incredulous I was actually going to do this hike for a second day in a row, I set out, less than half-hearted about it.  Half way up the hill, my sorry little ego started slamming me with reasons to head back down the trail.

It might rain.

It’s so windy!

Your shins are still sore from yesterday.

Your calves might explode. 

You’re starving.

You’re really thirsty!

You have to pee.

You might have to poop soon and there’s nowhere to go.

The chatter was endless.  I was being barraged!  I stopped walking, stopped listening, shifted my senses away from my measly self and onto the stunning surroundings.  All of the sudden, clarity pushed forth into sparkling view.

Here’s the banner it read off to my pesky inner “I can’t” voice:

This hike — this one and the next eight of them you’ll complete — will be a lesson in resistance training.  It will be an exercise of self-observation.  You will watch how your mind throws tricks at you to get you to stop whatever it is you’re working so hard at actually accomplishing.  You will witness how your body physically responds.  You will observe, acknowledge and go forward anyway. 

(The echoing sound of Gregorian monks chanting amen.)

The wind blew.  I pulled my hood over my ears and looked up.  I was within view of the highest point.  Which is when I heard myself say, “This is far enough.  You can turn around now.”

This is the thing with resistance.  It’s like a smooth talking good looking man; always finding new ways to get us to do it.  It’s so easy to be easy.  It’s so tempting to be a slut to resistance.

My legs were burning, my gluts felt like they might give out but I pressed forward, restating my vow to do this again and again every single morning before I leave.  I was newly resolved: I will not be a resistance slut.  I will not be a resistance slut.  I will not be a resistance slut.  This was my mantra, over and over again as I continued up the steep, muddy path.

A few minutes later I was at the top.  I made it.  Without collapsing from dehydration, without even crapping myself.  Hike number two of my ten day peak challenge was complete.

On my way back down the mountain I thought a lot about this little bugger called resistance.  I’ve succumbed to it for so long, for so many things, in so many ways.  Without really even knowing it!  It’s an easy thing to do.  Or so I thought.  At first it feels easy, but later you come off the easy high and it makes you feel stagnant, bored, wasted.  You feel as though you’re losing out on life and, like me, most of the time you don’t even know why.  All you know is that you’ve gotten really dang good at criticizing everyone else.

Resistance, if you relent to it, can be a source of total misery.

The book, The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield talks about this.  Mostly with regard to writing but it’s very applicable to everything else, too.  In fact, I just found these twelve tips and reread them.  I say “re” read because I’ve read them at least ten dozen times before.  I could memorize them and still, resistance would find the path between my knowing and my doing.  This reminds me of the old Italian saying, “Tra dire e fare c’e’ un mezzo mare.”  It’s a catchy, rhyming phrase that means, “Between saying and doing lies half an ocean.”  Which obviously doesn’t sound as fab in English but is to say that saying you’ll do something is far different than actually doing it.  I suppose our version of this saying would be “actions speak louder than words.”  But that sounds duh-worthy and ho-hummy.

Seeking the root of resistance is a challenging but valuable exercise.  And honestly?  It might be all in vain.  Why?  Because I know that as soon as I get this conquered (or think I’ve conquered it) there will be yet another lesson to learn.  That, I realized not while climbing the peak but — get this — while merely walking up the slight incline of the driveway.

Still, if all my major revelations revolved around a driveway, I wouldn’t have gotten to see this mangy, sweet face.

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