The Unlived Life

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I started The War of Art with this thought:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

What does that mean? In the deepest metaphysical sense?

It means that our lives exist on two levels.

The first level is the material plane. The practical world. The level of kids and cars and mortgages and taxes.

The second is the plane of potentiality.

The unlived life within us.

The books we might write, the enterprises we might initiate, the realized self we might become.

Pete Townshend of The Who. The “new boss” and the “old boss” are both within us.

Are you unhappy? Frustrated? Do you engage in rants on Facebook and Twitter? Do you take your anguish out on loved ones, on rivals at work, on shoppers in the produce aisle at Piggly Wiggly? Are you planning on building a bomb-proof shelter? Is QAnon starting to sound reasonable to you?

I’m not saying things aren’t crazy out there.

I’m not saying that dark energies haven’t been loosed upon the world.

I’m as freaked out as the next guy.

But what I am saying is that some of our angst, a portion of our anguish comes not from the travails of the moment, however dire they may be, but from something deeper.

I mean the gap between our lived lives and our unlived lives.

I mean Resistance.

When you and I know … when we feel in our bones the unrealized self we are or could become and know that we’re not living it out … the result is pain. The result is shame and mortification and self-reproach.

What we hate is not our fellow citizens across the political aisle.

What we hate is our own failure to step up to that unlived level. 

I’m not saying the time of action isn’t imminent. It may be inevitable that you and I, as citizens of a constitutional republic, will have to stand up and defend the principles our country stands for.

But when that fight is over and we find ourselves still as pissed off and miserable as we were before it started, we might remind ourselves that our deeper struggle—our “war of art”—is against that invisible, insidious, indefatigable negative force whose sole aim is to block the part of us that resides on the Material plane from reaching out and opening itself to the part of ourselves that participates in the Plane of the Potential.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

The post The Unlived Life first appeared on Steven Pressfield.

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