February 06, 2006

The Path of Least Resistance

clouds_lanai.jpg
view of Lanai from Big Beach, Kihei, Canon Digital Rebel


I have been thinking about this phrase a lot lately.
How do we know when we've chosen the path of least resistance?
And why are we often attracted to the path that is most challenging?

For a while now, I have been calling it the "easy" path, or asking myself "what's the easy way?" but I think we (culturally) have a bias against things we call easy. We think they are inauthentic or somehow not as meaningful.

Take my jewelry business for instance. Over five years ago, I was working hard on my painting career. I wanted to be a famous painter! and I painted my heart out, made slides of my work, did the gallery hustle, and was constantly disappointed and rejected. Even when there were victories and my work was selling in galleries, I was emotionally attached to my pieces and felt strange about selling them for dollars. The thrill of selling work would be quickly replaced by the disappointment of the piece being gone and the prospect of courting new clients.

It all felt so hard.

When I started making necklaces it was originally just for me. I had been looking for a vintage necklace that was chunky and funky and looked like something my mom would have worn (with knee high go-go boots) in the 60's. Nothing I found in thrift stores was quite what I had in mind, so I made the necklace myself using vintage beads.

Friends started requesting them. Then friends of friends. Then strangers began stopping me on the street asking where they could get a necklace like mine. I started carrying inventory with me and selling them off my neck. It was so much fun! I wasn't attached, I shared them freely and I could make them over and over again and never get bored. My love of color that guided my painting also guided me here.

It was easy! And when I say easy I don't mean without challenges, I mean, with ease, full of ease, easy like Sunday morning. I didn't know creativity could be that way. I didn't know it could be fun, and simple and flow so well.

It was the path of least resistance.

I thought for a long time that to be a "real" artist, I had to be a painter. I resisted the identity of jewelry artist because I had some bias about it. Luckily, my resistance didn't last too long.

Something I have learned over and over again is that for me, the right path is actually full of ease. There is a flow to it, a grace, and it doesn't feel so complicated. My mom told me once, after a terrible breakup, "Honey, when you find the right person it won't feel this complicated. You'll just know it's right. There will be challenges, but it won't be this dramatic."

Can you think back to a time when things were flowing? When things were full of ease and grace?

Looking back at the last couple of years of my life, there are things that have been very challenging and honestly, I haven't known what the easy path was. Frankly, none of it has felt easy. But I'm starting to see that the path I have been resisting the most has become, in the end, the path of least resistance.

Where have you been stubborn and unwilling to go? Where are things flowing and where are they not? What is your path of least resistance?

Posted on February 6, 2006 08:35 AM
Comments

Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling over the last few years with what is supposedly a dream job in my field. Its not for me, and I cannot tell how hard that has been to realize, admit to, and do something about. I have know idea what I'm going to be doing six months from now but I realize in reading your post that what I want is the path of least resistance, to feel that creative flow. I feel like its finally coming to me in small bits of self discovery.
This was a good, inspiring read. Thanks again.

Posted by: Mara at February 23, 2006 03:40 PM

thank you for writing this. with my creative endeavors i have felt lazy, only because i felt it seemed to easy; as if i couldn't make a living out of this because i am having too much fun! and also because of other's opinions on what i did during my day made me feel like i wasn't working as hard as i should be. i felt guilty for finding what i loved to do...almost felt like it wasn't enough because i wasn't miserable. so silly isn't it? so thank you for writing this. it was what i needed to hear. love you lots andrea!! celisa

Posted by: celisa at February 22, 2006 05:27 PM

Oh, do I ever remember almost majoring in French because it was hard and I didn't like it or the other students or the profs. Why major in English--it was such fun, so easy that it didn't even feel like college...

You're so right: sometimes what's easy is what we're good at.

xxx

Posted by: Anne at February 20, 2006 06:53 PM

Thank you for this beautiful notes.
This was what I really need to hear.

Posted by: Fatemeh at February 19, 2006 06:36 AM

This really spoke to me. Thank you.

Posted by: Jack at February 14, 2006 02:24 PM

I like the name Path of Least Resistance. This is something related I posted to a discussion board a couple months ago:

I've always felt lucky. Not to be new-agey because I'm not, I believe there is a source of energy in the world and that you can tap into it. You can fight against it or go with it; it could care less, but life is a lot easier if you go with it.

Basically, I look to see what path is easiest because that is the most likely to be the direction of the flow of energy. I don't want to paddle against the current for no reason. If I feel like I am going in the wrong direction, I will fight to get back on the path that "feels right". This is really hard to explain and does sound wacky, but it has worked for me over and over.

Sometimes I see an obstruction, like a log in the river that I'll have to get around, but I remind myself that I've always succeeded when I do what I feel instinctually is right. Like I've really wanted to get out of California for a long time (too expensive and I've been here all my life and want to try something new) and my husband was offered a job in the Bay Area, my least favorite place. Still, he was really excited and it felt like the right thing to do (when I was still with myself and just let myself be open to the flow around me). So we did it, and only a year later, we are being transferred with a job he loves to Austin, which is one of the top places on my list.

I think a lot of people ignore their intuition in this modern world. They wander around like they are blind in a sighted world because they are not using one of their primary senses. I see people over and over try to bulldoze their way through life, even when there is an easy way around the mountain. If I were to give any advice to someone who wanted luck, it's to sit and be quiet with yourself for a few minutes each time you have a decision to make. Try to feel the currents around you and let them float you down the river in the direction you should be going.

Posted by: tashina at February 10, 2006 04:48 PM

Just curious about the source of least resistance info - is it Robert Fritz? Abraham-Hicks? Or someone else I can start inhaling as well? I just eat this stuff up :~)

Posted by: reachdabbleshine at February 10, 2006 07:49 AM

This one I get - and totally get again and again. I thought I wanted to be a yoga teacher...DOVE into it and it all fell into place. Met the right people, got the right jobs, then I realized how HARD it was, how I HATED to go to class. I dreaded the one thing I thought I loved. Well, now I love doing yoga, going to class and being in the bliss of studentdom. I may want to teach ONE day, but for now I need to take it slow and not force it. It is when we force our dreams that the manipulation takes over and the drama and difficulty takes place. Ease. So nice. I get what you're saying sistuh! You are blessed with so many talents, photography, writing, consulting, counseling, art, jewelry, etc etc...it's all in the timing. I still hate painting on canvas - just on walls for murals. There is something so labeled and contrived when it goes on canvas. Good luck!! xoxoxo

Posted by: Angel Edwards at February 9, 2006 08:19 PM

Andrea,

Thank you a million times over for this entry! For my undergraduate honors thesis, I slaved over a book that took an enormous amount of energy. It was not a pleasant experience. It did not feel like Sunday Morning. As a result, I realized that I didn't enjoy that kind of writing, and that even though I had a finished novel on my hands, I could not, in good faith, call myself a writer and attatch my identity to an activity I (secretly) loathed.

While this was dissapointing, it also felt tremendously freeing. And, now, I'm always on the look out for creative practices that feel more jouyful and authentic. Again, thank you so much for reminding me that this is a perfectly okay thing to do, and that it doesn't mean I'm less creative; it simply means I need to find something else that Feels Easier.

big hugs,
Rachel

Posted by: Rachel at February 9, 2006 04:48 PM

Violette mentioned yor post in her blog today.. She is right! What you said about your jewelry making was very inspirational!!! Thank you for sharing! I love your site ...Pam

Posted by: Pam at February 9, 2006 12:10 PM

This is my first visit to your blog, but I'm sure it won't be my last - thank you so much for your words, which couldn't have come to me at a better time!

Posted by: tinker at February 8, 2006 06:21 PM

you go, buffalo girl.

Posted by: pixie at February 8, 2006 04:26 PM

This is a hard one for me.... because the 'easiest' thing for me to do seems to be being a secretary. A job I hate, a job that negates who I am as an artist and creative soul. But everytime i try to break out (go back to school for different training, pursue my dreams, even pursue lines of work other than desk-oriented assistant), the world rumbles, and collapses and the only life line that gets thrown to me is something like "Well, i know a place that needs some admin support". I've wept because I don't believe that the Universe puts a creative heart and dream into a body destined for paperwork. But this has been a constant challenge for me.

Posted by: Teece at February 8, 2006 12:27 PM

Wow. That's a great way to look at things, especially for me these days. I find writing on my blog come easily and doing art and crafts for sure. However, my education has been dismal starts on various career paths that have nothing to do with crafts or writing. I'm starting to realize I'm just afraid and I don't see how I can ever do what I love and get paid for it. Maybe I just need to do the stuff I like and not worry about getting paid to do it.

Posted by: carolb at February 8, 2006 11:49 AM

Wow! This post really resonates with me because it is so like my own story!! I had been struggling to sell my illustrations and get new clients, when I made some gift tags for fun that got such a great response I started selling THOSE (my "Laini's Ladies") and before the year was over I had a licensing deal and they were being manufactured and disributed all over the country! It was a completely unexpected path that WAS a lot easier than trying to get my illustration out there. The product itself was easier to make, too, but always FUN FUN FUN. Such a joy, doing something so personal and motivated purely by play, and having it be loved by others! Speaking of loving, whenever my friend Alexandra wears the necklace she won in your Valentine's contest, I can't take my eyes off it. Beautiful!
-Laini

Posted by: Laini at February 8, 2006 08:46 AM

great post! thankyou!!
i always wanted to be an "ARTIST" and now i have so much more fun just making stuff.

Posted by: tania at February 7, 2006 03:34 PM

Wow. Another wow from another person who has been thinking thoughts along these same lines lately. I have been realizing that I tend to de-value the areas where I am "naturally" talented. I love to write, and words come relatively easily to me. Because writing is easy (and I use "easy" like you use it - easy like Sunday morning, not necessarily without hard work or any difficulty), I have somehow convinced myself that my writing is not really anything special or important, even when dear friends of mine (who I consider talented writers/artists) tell me that it is. It is only in the past few months that I've realized that I do this to myself. Why do I think I have to do something that's hard for me in order for it to be worthwhile? Sure I could work on something that I'm not very good at and eventually become adequate or even moderately good at it. But just think of the possibilities that lie ahead for me if I start with the things that are EASY for me, and then I invest my time and energy into THOSE?

Thank you, Andrea, for reminding me of this again. I think it's one of those things I can't tell myself enough.

Posted by: Jessamyn at February 7, 2006 08:36 AM

Wow, look at how many people you have inspired with this post! Thank you for the questions but also for your story. It is so easy to forget that people who inspire you also had to work really hard and go through the self-questioning that everyone has. Your description of your journey was so helpful at this moment in my own. Thank you!!!

Posted by: megg at February 7, 2006 08:14 AM

andrea,

as always sweet girl a lovely post you've given us.

my job, or my work is what i've been holding onto for a lot longer than i should have. i've been trying to figure out what am i supposed to be doing with myself here...

i started to read purpose driven life. started journaling and taking time each day to just sit and listen for the answers.

jenn

Posted by: jenn at February 7, 2006 07:20 AM

these are great questions for me to be
asking myself right now...thanks
for suggesting them...
and once again, beautiful photo!

Posted by: gkgirl at February 7, 2006 04:04 AM

Wow Andrea! Have you been reading my mind? I have been thinking about change, and resisting change, and about changing my life's path, and I have been feeling so unsure as to which direction to take. The phrase "path of least resistance" has been going through my head so much lately. The little voices inside saying "take the easiest way"..."Wait, NO! the easy way is bad!" It's all very confusing. Your post was so comforting. It's such a blessing to know others feel the same way. Thank you!! It was wonderful food for thought and just what I needed to hear. :)

Posted by: Julia at February 7, 2006 03:24 AM

When I read your title my jaw dropped - I just wrote an entry about needing to avoid taking the path of least resistance in a few areas of my life. Creatively and artistically I am moving closer to the space that is about EASE and the least resistance. But there are certain personal issues about which I have avoided the more difficult journey in order to avoid confrontation and conflict. So right now I feel a strange balance - ease with work & creativity alongside challenges in areas of my life I've avoided for some time now.

Posted by: Swirly at February 7, 2006 01:08 AM

Such a cool post Andrea...

Posted by: Ali at February 6, 2006 07:32 PM

what a great post. It made me think about my life and the career path I have chosen. I studied graphic design, and after 3 years of being in school, I was hired at my first job. I quickly noticed that my love for working in a design firm wasn't as high as I thought. My creativity was diminishing, as well as my spirit. I decided to take some time off and figure out what I really want to pursue. My passion has always been in illustration, children's books and greeting cards. So...two years ago, I started my own greeting card company called TearDrop. It was a lot of hard work (still is) I'm still trying to get my name out there. This May I will be attending the National Stationery show in New York City. I feel that this is my big break...I can just feel it!

If i hadn't taken a chance two years ago, taken a risk of quitting my job...I wouldn't be where I am today. I am my own boss, I have learned so much about owning a business, I have matured, grown and everyday I get to be creative and only listen to my own heart when I'm creating.

holly
www.hollyhatam.livejournal.com
www.tear-drop.ca
www.hollyhatam.com

Posted by: holly Hatam at February 6, 2006 06:55 PM

what a great post. It made me think about my life and the career path I have chosen. I studied graphic design, and after 3 years of being in school, I was hired at my first job. I quickly noticed that my love for working in a design firm wasn't as high as I thought. My creativity was diminishing, as well as my spirit. I decided to take some time off and figure out what I really want to pursue. My passion has always been in illustration, children's books and greeting cards. So...two years ago, I started my own greeting card company called TearDrop. It was a lot of hard work (still is) I'm still trying to get my name out there. This May I will be attending the National Stationery show in New York City. I feel that this is my big break...I can just feel it!

If i hadn't taken a chance two years ago, taken a risk of quitting my job...I wouldn't be where I am today. I am my own boss, I have learned so much about owning a business, I have matured, grown and everyday I get to be creative and only listen to my own heart when I'm creating.

holly
www.hollyhatam.livejournal.com
www.tear-drop.ca
www.hollyhatam.com

Posted by: holly Hatam at February 6, 2006 06:54 PM

Hi Andrea,
Thank you so much for this post! It really resonates with me in so many ways. I think I feel very stuck in my career - it's a constant struggle and nothing comes easily. It feels awful to have it this way, since getting my education to do this career was such a cakewalk. How can the actual vocation be so much harder than it was described and taught in school? It is hard to get up in the morning and head into work. I just want to throw my hands up and say, "ENOUGH!! I've had it!!!!" I wonder how people pick careers that they love. I wish my gut would give me a clue as to what the right thing for me would be. {sigh} Where is my path of least resistance?

Posted by: Carey at February 6, 2006 06:14 PM

Hmm... Odd coincidence. Noble Purpose or living on purpose has been the topic of the talks given at my church in recent weeks http://www.cslseattle.org/main.asp One of the hallmarks of finding your purpose or passion is that it is likely something you do with ease. We often fail to identify it as our purpose because it is done with such ease and this society values struggle and working hard. If it comes too easily then it isn't valued or important. I think you are right on when you distinguish between doing it with ease and finding it easy also. It can be a fine distinction but important.

What a valuable discovery.

Posted by: Tina at February 6, 2006 04:52 PM

I don't think you're just a jewelry artist though. To me, you seem like a life artist.

And the path of least resistance, well, that really got me thinking. Somehow, I've always thought that the path of least resistance was bad, that you are supposed to have some difficulty. On the other hand, I think I've been making choices like that without being aware of it - choosing subjects at university, for instance, I always went for the topics that came to me easily. It makes sense on a subconscious level. I like the idea of consciously going for it. And when I know exactly where that is, I'll get back to you... (and maybe I already know, but am afraid to admit it :)

Posted by: Anja at February 6, 2006 03:50 PM

well, HO-lee. Wah-hutt a topic. Yes. I too have had that flo~like you said; not w/out struggle, but def. more fluid. When I was making my own Zine. It was "work". I got frustrated. I had to remind ppl. to pay me & promote myself.......... but I honestly LOVED making them. And if I developped them further into quarterly, harder covered little bOOks.......... and charged quite a bit More: I imagine that would be an EAse-y thing for me to do.
I also experience FLO when I am in THe WOODS. In deep Nature: I never feel more mySelf when I am there. Soooo, I gotta get myself There!!!!! [smiling.] hey! i even dreamt that abt. the woods last nite.
thanks again, sister I've never met.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted by: delia~rose at February 6, 2006 03:50 PM

From an Andrea to an Andrea and from a painter to a painter...really nice post.
a.

Posted by: andrea at February 6, 2006 03:27 PM

This journal entry really struck a chord with me. For the past few months I've been going through an awful time, feeling blocked and uninspired, trying to follow the path of a fine artist. I love my paintings, and I do love to create them, but I HATE all the crap that surrounds trying to sell them and thereby somehow justify my existence. This post really gives me something to think about.

Posted by: Angela at February 6, 2006 03:23 PM

Your post really hit a chord with me. I've been really resistant lately. Resistant to change, resistant to creativity, just resisting life cause it's been what seemed too challenging. You've given this Nebraska girl some food for thought. I love checking out your blog and enjoyed your recent vacation, I felt like a voyouer. Thanks for your provoking thoughts.

Posted by: Carrie at February 6, 2006 02:09 PM

What everyone else said. This one hit that special spot for me today. Thanks Andrea!

Posted by: sopheava at February 6, 2006 02:02 PM

I have lived my life abandoning anything that did not come with ease. My thinking being, if it was meant for me and fit with my strengths, there would not be a struggle. A good friend has lived her life putting less value on the things that come with ease, and more value on those that demand hard work, sacrifice and struggle. Sometimes I wonder if I have missed out on things by "giving up" too soon and I think she wonders if she has stayed too long on the wrong paths simply because the struggle seemed to promise something great at the end.

Posted by: nadine at February 6, 2006 12:33 PM

Wow. I need this. Lately, I have been having creative-panic attacks, meaning I want to create but I am so unsure of my voice and the medium, and it all feels like a struggle, like I am squeezing a dry rag.

I like Kelly's idea of a sabbatical. I think I need to empty myself and then figure out how I can best express myself...be it writing, making collages, taking pictures, teaching, etc.

Posted by: Kate at February 6, 2006 12:06 PM

Wow, this is the same realization I've been having lately, put into words. I just spent the weekend cleaning out all the old materials from past projects that were making me feel unhappy and stressed and sad because I had no passion or energy for them. I also got rid of anything that no longer pertains to my life right now. Aand I have declared myself "on sabbatical"--from relationships, from projects, from unworkable creative pressures--to clear some space for my real interests to show through.

I'll post your words on my bulletin board to remind me of why I'm doing this. Thank you!

Posted by: Kelly at February 6, 2006 11:01 AM

Wow, this is the same realization I've been having lately, put into words. I just spent the weekend cleaning out all the old materials from past projects that were making me feel unhappy and stressed and sad because I had no passion or energy for them. I also got rid of anything that no longer pertains to my life right now. Aand I have declared myself "on sabbatical"--from relationships, from projects, from unworkable creative pressures--to clear some space for my real interests to show through.

I'll post your words on my bulletin board to remind me of why I'm doing this. Thank you!

Posted by: Kelly at February 6, 2006 10:50 AM

Problem is, my path of least resistance usually leads me to the couch, with a book and a cat purring on my tummy. :)

This is a great topic. Much to think about here. Thank you.

Gorgeous photo. Lucky you!

Laura

Posted by: Laura at February 6, 2006 10:28 AM

Oh my! I wish I knew the answer.....

Posted by: bimacs at February 6, 2006 10:27 AM

THANK YOU!! this was exactly what i needed to remind myself. in the last few months, i've been discovering what makes my life *really* flow with ease and cutting off all the umbilical cords that no longer serve a purpose in my life. sometimes it's all about letting things go cos when good things end, new good things do begin!

Posted by: muck at February 6, 2006 09:54 AM

Is it possible that the "flow" is literally in a physical place? I feel like I haven't "found my groove" since moving back to the U.S. But I don't know if moving my family back to San Miguel is the best option for us right now.

But the inspiration and ease at which I learned and worked was amazing.

Posted by: mindi at February 6, 2006 09:39 AM

What a wonderful entry! I needed this today.

Posted by: Rebecca at February 6, 2006 09:18 AM

There's a phrase, "push at the doors that open". I've had the same experience in my life. But is "easy" the right word? Some things seem meant to be difficult, as though the difficulty is itself a kind of preparation.

Posted by: William at February 6, 2006 09:13 AM

lovin' on you.

Posted by: denise at February 6, 2006 09:10 AM

I'm a bit shy about posting answers to your questions, but they have my mind buzzing with activity.

The reason I'm here is to thank you so much for your blog. It is so inspiring and thought provoking that whenever I'm lost I come here to get some guidance.

Thanks for always beeing there. I wish you all the best.

Posted by: Adriana at February 6, 2006 08:56 AM