It’s Day 4 of reading Turning Pro – in case you missed them, here are the posts for Day 1, 2, and 3. Throughout the book, Pressfield intersperses his advice with his story of how he became pro in his own life by applying the very same principles he talks about. In today’s section that we read for today, he shares the story about his year of turning pro, which inspires the topic of today’s post: chasing your daemons. Yes, not battling – chasing. I will explain this further in the post (and the difference in spelling).
Reading Pressfield’s story about his year of turning pro reminded me of the countless movies in which the protagonist is seen working and their brilliant output, usually sped up to show the passage of time – weeks, months – sometimes, though not unusually, after they’ve hit rock bottom or decide to change their path (if they didn’t hit rock bottom). To me, this stuff has always been inspiring but it’s also an illusion, of sorts, at the same time. When we’re doing the work, time goes by at its usual pace and we’re working from the inside. The other thing is that, as movies are a visual medium, storytelling must take its cue from external signs when, really, the work starts from the inside – before the burst of creativity and time-lapsed flurry of output that everyone sees.
Personal victory comes before public triumph.
Turning pro is personal, as well as private; as we work on ourselves, those changes we’ve made will start to make a difference in our lives and others’ lives, too, as they start to see how we’ve changed. This is, once again, something that is harder to convey onscreen and the audience only really sees the results of the character’s inner, private work on themselves. We cannot enter the character’s mind or not so much as witness, but feel, their thought processes without it being visualized.
What is the pain of being human?
It’s the condition of being suspended between two worlds and being unable to fully enter into either.
Pressfield carries on to describe these two worlds, the upper realm (belonging to the gods) and the lower realm, the material world. However, when we work on ourselves and engage in our true calling, when we turn pro, we are in tune and connected with this upper realm, as Pressfield calls it. Others might call it God, the universe, a higher consciousness, etc.
Whatever it is, this is what we connect to when we are engaged in what we love to do. Before the Renaissance, when a person created something, they weren’t called a genius; they had genius, assisted by their daemon (a benevolent being, distinct from demon). While in some ways similar to our current understanding or popularly believed image of the muse, it is dissimilar in that, nowadays, while we might hear an artist talk about finding their muse or complaining about waiting for her, the artist takes all the credit and praise for their creativity and the muse receives nothing. (Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in greater detail in her TED Talk.)
This upper realm calls to us, but it is up to us to do the work to connect with it and to see our results, the fruits of our labour.