For our last outing of the Christmas break, we took our kids to see The Art of the Brick art exhibit over the weekend. As expected, the art Nathan Sawaya has created out of nothing but Lego bricks (and the occasional fishing line) was breathtaking. As expected, Sawaya’s art — ranging from 2D and 3D recreations of famous pieces of art like Van Gogh’s Starry Night and DaVinci’s David to original works — were impressive in detail and scale, and inspired a furious day of Lego building the next day.
It’s easy to dismiss Sawaya’s work as simply cool Lego constructions writ large, with a veneer of high art as thin and substantial as an almond-colored formica countertop. To do so is a grave injustice. The Art of the Brick is serious art, and multiple pieces caused me to stop and contemplate Sawaya’s message. My favorite was this piece that had me stopped for awhile and caused me to fall behind the rest of my crew:
The title of this piece is “Grasp,” and here’s what its creator says about it:
No matter where your heart wants to lead you, there will be hands that try to hold you back. Life’s challenge is to find the strength to break free. I created this sculpture in response to so many people telling me “no” in my life. I wanted to break free of those people.
For a guy who made the transition from New York corporate lawyer to Lego artist, one can only imagine the tenor and tone of that chorus of “no’s.”
Every decision to improve … to create … to grow … to challenge … to aspire — in other words, nearly every future-facing decision made by nearly everyone over the last week — ALL give birth to reasons not to. The Resistance is to self-improvement and creative output what the kickback is to the firing of a gun: Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion made manifest. As Steven Pressfield so bluntly writes in Do the Work:
When you or I set out to create anything — art, commerce, science, love — or to advance in the direction of a higher, nobler version of ourselves, we uncork from the universe, ineluctably, an equal and opposite reaction.
That reaction is Resistance. Resistance is an active, intelligent, protean, malign force — tireless, relentless, and inextinguishable — whose sole object is to stop us from becoming our best selves and from achieving our higher goals.
The universe is not indifferent. It is actively hostile.
If there’s a better expression of The Resistance at work than Sawaya’s Grasp, I’ve yet to see it. Go see it for yourself.