I mentioned in an earlier post that I am reading the journals of the sculptor Anne Truitt. This morning I re-read a passage from Daybook which touches so directly on the difficulties of finishing a piece of work that I had to post it, given that my last post dealt with my own struggle in that regard.
An undertaking, [Gurdjieff] says, begins with a surge of energy that carries it a certain distance toward completion. There then occurs a drop in energy, which must be lifted back to an effective level by conscious effort, in my experience by bringing to bear hard purpose. It is here that years of steady application to a specific process can come into play. It is, however, in the final stage, just before completion, that Gurdjieff says pressure mounts almost unendurably to a point at which it is necessary to bring to bear an even more special kind of effort. It is at this point, when idea is on the verge of bursting into physicality, that I find myself meeting maximum difficulty. I sometimes have the curious impression that the physical system seems in its very nature to resist its invasion by idea. The desert wishes to lie in the curves of its own being: It resists the imposition of the straight line across its natural pattern. Matter itself seems to have some mysterious intransigency.
It is at this critical point that most failures seem to me to occur. The energy required to push the original concept into actualization, to finish it, has quite a different qualitative feel from the effort needed to bring it to this point. It is this strange, higher-keyed energy to which I find I have to pay attention - to court, so to speak, by living in a particular way. Years of training build experience capable of holding a process through the second stage. The opposition of purpose to natural indolence, the friction of this opposition, maintained year after year, seems to create a situation that attracts this mysterious third force, the curious fiery energy required to raise an idea into realization. Whether or not it does so attract remains a mystery.