Psychological flexibility allows us to move toward our discomfort in a way that is curious, open, and kind.*
Without internal tension there would be a fluid rush to a straightaway mark; there would be nothing that would be called development and fulfilment. The existence of resistance defines the place of intelligence in the product of an object of fine art.**
Richard Sennett reflects on these words from John Dewey:
As in art, so in life; resistance prompts us to think.^
Resistance is important if we are to live a fine life, and yet resistance is being removed or lost in many dimensions of life.
Sennett takes his readers around the resistant-free technological experience of a computer, to “Googleplex” in New York, and then to the smart city of Songdo in South Korea, controlled from a central “cockpit”: experiences he feels to be lifeless: smart experiences that dumb us down.
The kind of experiences that provide us with answers when we need questions to wrestle with.
I couldn’t help but think of Richard Rohr’s five elemental truths: experiences of resistance that when we push through them, grow us in the process:
Life is hard
You are not as special as you think
Your life is not about you
You are not in control
You are going to die.^^
Steven Hayes, a developer of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), encourages us to turn towards the difficult things with curiosity, rather than distracting ourselves from what we find painful, so developing openness.
For me, this means openness of mind, heart and will.
The considered life – I borrow the term from Jesus of Nazareth – means to slow down, notice, struggle, let go, let come, move on. Where we are in this moment is only a starting point:
Genre is a box, a set of boundaries, something the creative person can leverage against. The limits of the genre are the place you can do your idiosyncratic work. To make change happen, the artist must bend one of those boundaries, one of those edges.*^
Into the resistance.
*From Steven Haye’s A Liberated Mind;
**John Dewey, quoted in Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
^From Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
^^From Richard Rohr’s Adam’s Return;
*^From Seth Godin’s The Practice.