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Kristin M. Swenson, Ph.D. Headshot

New Year's Lament

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It's not worth listing why I can't complain. I can't (complain, or make lists, for that matter). Yet, while everyone else seems to be embracing the new year with the energy of clear purpose and PowerPoint-able goals, I'm having drinks with Lord Languor and Princess Peevish. I know it's time to sober up and show them the door; but alas, I'm weak.

Toward the end of the last year, which I will nostalgically refer to as 2012, I was humming along. Finished a rough draft of Novel #1, and... OK, that's about it. But then, like some backcountry alpine skier who snags an errant boulder, I flipped. Now I'm filing my nails, reordering the cupboards, and walking in circles. Literally.

I know what this is. Steven Pressfield calls it "Resistance." Although that words seems too benign, I don't have a better one. I do agree with him that it's evil. That may seem strong language, too overblown and dramatic (and now coming from a long-time religion professor, no less). But hey. This negative energy however it's generated and whatever form it takes, if it gets in the way of a person's digging into herself and dragging out for the world something to offer, then it's evil.

Whatever interferes with a person's expression of his whole and unique humanity is evil. Consider the opposite: the act of creating what is "good," what is "very good," is nothing short of divine (so sayeth Genesis 1, anyway). Yet somehow, despite the glorious power of creative expression, that badness gets inside -- a bug in the brain, so to speak, a poison in the blood -- and warps our drive, diverts our purpose, and precludes productivity. Excuses abound.

How to slay it? First, I don't think we ever do. It's a peculiar part of our wonderfully messed-up make-up. So maybe we borrow from the rulebook of eastern martial arts: divert its energy away or even back against it. If this sounds too woo-woo philosophical, I'll put it to you in the spirit of Garrison Keillor's Evelyn Lundberg Counseling Agency (ELCA): Get to work.

It works. No excuses, just get to it. It's only taken me four days to compose this blog (*only* hah!). But Novel #2 is back on track. It ain't pretty, and it ain't perfect. But it sure is fun. And for the time being, at least, I've gotten the Uglies off my back. Now you. Back to work.