I didn't expect to meet him so early in my travels. My hopes were to finally come face to face with him sometime in January, when a trip to Cedar Falls or Indianapolis loomed before me. I really hadn't anticipated him showing up in late November, just three weeks into what will be a 17 week journey through the mid-major basketball world.
But I recognized him right away. I know him from so many places before, heard his voice and seen his ugly face so many times before. That voice rang loud and clear in my head first thing in the morning, just as I rolled over in my warm bed in St. Louis to turn off my alarm clock...
"Do you really want to get up and drive five hours to see a game between two teams you don't care about? It's cold. It's raining. No one will notice or care if you don't go. Come on, stay home."
I really didn't expect to hear him so soon. But I write about it now as a fair warning, because all of you will meet him. He is Resistance, and he will stop you.
Steven Pressfield, maybe best known for his book-turned-movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, has written extensively on Resistance in The War of Art, an absolute must-read for anyone who ever wants to do anything creative, important, or life-changing. Resistance will meet you head-on and do everything within its power to prevent you from doing it. Writing a book, losing weight, giving more to a charity - or as Pressfield puts it, "any act that derives from our higher nature, instead of our lower... will elict Resistance." Basically, Resistance is the voice inside everyone that tells them they can not do what they have set out to do. A person's success or failure depends on overcoming it.
The key to overcoming Resistance is two-fold. First comes ignorance. Ignore the voice, because it is wrong. It is a liar and a thief of dreams. But if simple ignorance were the only key, success would be so easy.
Second comes hard work, and this is where most people, of whom I am the most guilty, fall short. I've started many projects, only to stop as soon as I hear his favorite opening line, "Who are you to do this? You're not any good at it."
Like I said, I didn't expect him so early, but I took steps to prevent my bailing on this trip should he decide to show up. I pre-booked my hotel room in Nashville and bought my ticket from the Lipscomb website in advance as well. Now I had money sunk into this, and I wasn't about to let money go to waste. So, I got out of bed, shut Resistance up for at least a few hours, and drove 300 miles through a cold late November storm to the Music City.
The Governors from Austin Peay State University didn't have as long a drive as I did, as their campus in Clarksville sits only 54 miles from Lipscomb. But without a win in their first seven games, the voice had to be screaming in their own minds, "When will you win? Are you guys this bad? When you lose this, 0-9 is a guarantee because you go to Memphis next."
But like life itself, college basketball doesn't wait for people to sort out their issues, and this game tipped off as scheduled before a small but steadily growing crowd, due in part to two above the red line schools playing just a few miles north of the Lipscomb campus.
One part of Resistance that really isn't addressed often is how it manifests itself in the actions of those trying to overcome its influence. I can only wonder if the voices screamed any louder at the Governors as their first six possessions went as such: steal, steal, missed layup, charge, made layup by Jerome Clyburn, charge. In the first four minutes, APSU had four turnovers and two points. Lipscomb had a 7-2 lead.
Although I was four rows from the court, I couldn't hear what Governors' head coach Dave Loos said to his players during the first media time-out. As a 21-year veteran at Austin Peay, I'm sure he's seen many teams get off to bad starts, both in a season and in a game. His voice in the time-out must have drowned out the voices in the players' minds for a while. 45 seconds later, Peay tied the game at 9 each after a rebound basket by TyShwan Edmondson, then a steal on the ensuing inbound and layup by Clyburn.
Resistance works in equal directions sometimes, made evident in the three-minute, 14 possession scoreless streak by both teams, finally broken by Jacob Arnett's layup to give the Bisons a 27-20 lead with 6:03 left in the first half. Lipscomb pushed the lead out to ten, 36-26, by the halftime buzzer sounded, helped along by 14 APSU turnovers in the half.
The key to overcoming resistance is ignoring the voice and hard work. The Governors came out of the locker room ready to do both and make this game close again. Melvin Baker hit an jumpshot. Edmondson and Josh Terry each had drives for layups and drew the foul to convert three-point plays. Two more J's from Baker, and what was a ten-point lead was cut to four.
Lipscomb went cold for just long enough to let Austin Peay cut into the lead, and after two Clyburn free throws, Peay actually took a 44-43 lead.
Of course, there are times when resistance means nothing in whether one succeeds. Sometimes others are just better.
Jordan Burgason nailed back-to-back superhoops from almost identical spots to push the Lipscomb lead back to 5. While they didn't just go away, as they had too much pride for that, resistance overcame Austin Peay. Lipscomb won 67-59, and Peay fell to 0-8 on the season with Memphis looming.
After the game, I wandered into a little bar-n-grill across from my hotel, and as expected by being in the Music City, I found some young, as-yet-unheard-of musicians jamming on acoustic guitars. The crowd, a dozen at most, consisted mostly of friends they had dragged out on a cold November evening. But for two hours, I sat with them and listened to some of the best original music I've ever heard. If they all put out albums like they say they are, I will have plenty to listen to on future trips.
Here were people fighting their own inner voice, trying to overcome their own Resistance in a city where dreams die by the thousands but success may wait just around the corner.
Resistance is an disgusting, ugly thing. But fighting it, and ultimately beating it, creates wonderful, beautiful things.
at LIPSCOMB 67, AUSTIN PEAY 59 11/28/2011
AUSTIN PEAY 0-8 (0-0) -- T. Edmondson 3-12 1-1 7; J. Clyburn 3-7 2-4 8; J. Terry 4-8 1-1 9; W. Triggs 3-5 3-3 9; M. Baker 6-8 1-1 13; A. Campbell 2-9 2-4 7; J. Blake 1-5 0-0 3; H. Lawrence 0-2 0-0 0; C. Freeman 1-2 1-1 3; M. Hasse 0-0 0-0 0; T. Greer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 11-15 59. LIPSCOMB 4-3 (0-0) -- R. Boyd 4-15 1-2 11; J. Arnett 6-14 2-2 14; J. Burgason 4-11 6-6 17; D. Smith 2-2 1-2 5; J. Glenn 6-10 0-0 12; Z. Williams 2-10 0-0 4; D. Alexander 1-5 1-2 3; M. Williams 0-2 0-0 0; M. Smith 0-3 1-2 1; M. Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-73 12-16 67.
Three-point goals: APSU 2-17 (A. Campbell 1-4; T. Edmondson 0-6; J. Blake 1-5; T. Greer 0-1; H. Lawrence 0-1), LIP 5-24 (J. Arnett 0-3; J. Burgason 3-10; R. Boyd 2-7; Z. Williams 0-2; D. Alexander 0-2); Rebounds: APSU 40 (W. Triggs 8), LIP 43 (J. Glenn 12); Assists: APSU 9 (J. Clyburn 4), LIP 12 (D. Smith 9); Total Fouls -- APSU 17, LIP 16; Fouled Out: APSU-J. Terry; LIP-None.