The Path of Least Resistance: A Reflection on Life as Art


Being a writer, words can be as transcendent as silence. And certain books I’ve read at certain times, the most profound teachers.

Sitting on this balcony of Casa Rumi overlooking Sayulita Bay, what has become one of my happiest places to be, (more on this later), I reflect on important books over the years that changed my life…literally.

There was The Transparent Self by Sidney Jourard, in my early 30’s, that gave me a certain courage to be authentic. A seed planted that would eventually bloom into a passion for teaching college classes on love, passion, playfulness, spirituality and creativity. Classes that influenced my students to know themselves and show up authentically. Environments that were alive, free and spontaneous! I felt we all needed to know that being self-reliant and private to the degree of being unknown and unsupported was far lonelier than taking the risk to be real.  These were feelings that were not only inspired by Jourard’s words but from my growing up in a family and a country that carried a legacy of independence. Privacy and self-containment felt safer in my earlier years. Jourard opened my eyes to something bigger and richer, and, paradoxically, even safer. Transparency, turns out, was the fast track to connection. It was for my students as well. We’d all had that lonely experience of feeling like an orphan in the world and gratefully, the more allied experience of belonging and feeling seen. But it wasn’t only our vulnerabilities that came out when being real, it also threw open a window to our unique and stunning creativity! Being in an audience, a place, a relationship, a gallery, when that “taksu”, as the Balinese call it, comes though this individual, this moment, this art, this performance, it takes us out of time into a love that connects everything. “Taksu”, they say, happens when the artist is skilled, completely open and Spirit intervenes. But transparency and openness can create this same magical quality of sacredness in any moment and my students and I witnessed its profound affect.  Mark Nepo, in another of my favorite books, “The Book of Awakening “says “By being who we are, we not only experience life in all its vitality, but quite innocently and without design we help others be more authentically themselves”, (Nepo, pg. 107) It is through being ourselves that we know love. Authenticity, which was infectious, created love in those classrooms and love is what created aliveness, spontaneity and joy! The wonderful thing about being loved is that so much more of you shows up!

The 2nd book that remains one of my favorites is a book I also read in my 30’s, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl. In his 1959 haunting account of what gave Jewish prisoners the will and resiliency to live in Auschwitz, one of the most horrifying, inhumane environments in history, he looks at the essence of meaning in the human soul. Survival, he discovered, essentially came down to something being meaningful enough to live for.  In this historical account of faith, he pointed my heart towards three essential meanings, creating through actions, through our connections and through our attitude toward suffering. Frankl, like myself, believed in love as the most essential source of meaning in life. “Love” he said, “is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire”. (Victor Frankl)

‘Meaning’ became an intimate word for me after reading Frankl’s book. I never stopped asking myself this essential question, “What gives my life meaning?” And then paying close attention to the ever evolving and sometimes never changing, answers.

Which leads me to this life changing book and what inspired this blog! Written in 1984 by Robert Fritz, “The Path of Least Resistance, Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life”, brought it all together for me in the mid 80’s, authenticity, meaning and creativity into one powerful orientation. The root meaning of the word ‘art’ is ‘to fit together’. I began to look at my life as an evolving work of art.

Being raised by a mother that was an artist, thought out of the box, raised 5 daughters on her own with very little in the way of resources, resiliency and creativity were not strangers to me. I knew them intimately! But this book shifted my orientation in a way I was made for but not schooled in. Most of us aren’t! “In the educational system, aptitude is often substituted for vision”, says Fritz, (pg. 71). Education teaches us how to be good problem solvers but not great creators. “Problem solving is taking action to have something go away-the problem”, says Fritz, “Creating is taking action to have something come into being-the creation” (pg. 11).

Fritz describes the path of least resistance as energy moving where it is easiest to go. He also describes the importance of the under lying structure of a life which then determines that path. It can be altered he says by paying close attention to choices, reality and knowing what you truly want. “Structures that have the most influence on your life are composed of desires, beliefs, assumptions, aspirations and objective reality” (Fritz, pg. 8)

I learned to pay close attention to the word, reality.  It’s the only place solid enough on which to build visions. The challenging part of reality is that there are times that things come together and times they fall apart. The Balinese pray many times a day to 3 deities, Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver and Siva, the destroyer. They know that the cycles of birth and death, creation and destruction, are reality. “No one climbs a ladder and staples the leaves back on the branches”, says Fritz (pg. 205) “In the creative process, change is the norm” (Fritz, pg. 206) But we humans sometimes try to avoid change and pain.

“When you are creating and also trying to avoid pain, you will come to a crossroads of decision. When push comes to shove, what do you do? Do you avoid the potential pain and misrepresent reality, or do you accurately represent reality to enable yourself to create your vision and feel whatever there is to feel? This is a matter of values. That which you hold to be more valuable will guide your actions. If the avoidance of pain is a higher value than the creation of what you want, your actions will be to avoid the parts of reality that seem problematic. If your creation is a higher value, you will pursue an accurate representation of reality and let your emotional chips fall where they may (Fritz, pg. 146)

Over a lifetime my heart has been broken many times. It’s a tough part of this being human, loss and grief. But I have also discovered how when I’ve tried to avoid pain by denying reality, that has led to deeper pain. And trying to create on a foundation of illusions is predictably doomed.

I also realized that keeping close tabs on what I wanted even if I didn’t think it was possible to have has been just as important. As Fritz reminds us “After years of misrepresenting your true wants, the increasing stress can lead to health problems”, (pg. 135). “The human Spirit”, he goes on to say, “will not invest itself in a compromise”, (pg. 167).

It was around the time I read Fritz’s book that I designed a tool, my PLO, my Precious Life Outline which I began using every year in 1983. I created it to keep the focus on the things that mattered to me (what gave my life meaning) and what I wanted to create, which has turned out to be the most beautiful generosities I could give to others. That’s one of the myths I am committed to dispelling! Our creativity is not selfish! It’s incredibly generous!

Being clear on what I wanted was certainly not a panacea. I had just as many problems, disappointments, challenges, conflicts, frustrations, as we humans have in our lives but the creative orientation helped me from getting lost in circumstances, forgetting my desires and losing my vision. When I put my attention on what I wanted to create, what I loved, the visions just kept coming from that profound innate taste of beauty inside my own soul. Not that it always looked pretty on the outside! Things got messy, there’s been hard labor, some risk-taking scared the hell out of me and gratefully worked out in the long run! But I also experienced a lot of joy and deep satisfaction around what I was capable of seeing first in my mind and then materialized in the world.

Some have looked at this creative process as a form of “goal setting”. I never have. Artists know the difference. A painter neither sees a blank canvas as a “problem” to be solved or a piece of art that must be “accomplished”. Creating is not about willpower. It is about love. It is not about how something will be received or accepted. It is about the beauty one sees inside and wants to bring it into the world, to love, to share. “The reason you would create anything is because you love it enough to see it exist”. (Fritz, pg. 59) Knowing what I’ve wanted to see exist has been less a process of writing a list and more a process of deep diving.  “In each individual on the planet”, says Fritz, “there is the deepest longing to reunite with what is highest in him or her. This longing is called the soul urge, because it exists at a level deeper than your psychological makeup, deeper than your conscious thoughts, deeper than your intuitive perceptions, and deeper than the structures that are predominately in play in your life”, (pg. 284). Many goal-setting practices are not grounded in this “soul urge”. They may get results but not always as deeply satisfying. “When you create”, says Fritz, “you are experiencing the law of transcendence”, (pg. 278).

This is the 3rd time I’ve read Fritz’ book, now with 3 different shades of highlighting amongst the pages. Each reading, recognizing something new, I see this time how much more natural the creative orientation is to me now. “Your entire being becomes an automatic process of focus. You begin to breath with your vision, move with your vision, and live in alignment with your vision. At this stage of the creative process, there is often an interplay between conscious thought process and your internal automatic thought process.” (Fritz, pg. 203) And there is a momentum as well that has developed. The more I see the results of creative vision, the more faith I have in my ability to create what I want to love into being!

I also see the influence of how it has not only shaped my own life but others’. I have introduced the PLO model to many of my students and coaching clients over the years and I’ve never worked with anyone that didn’t love creating their own PLO. Why? Because when we focus on what we love and the desire to have it manifest, we are simultaneously seeing our own higher development. It’s an emotional process, not a linear one. It also taps deeply into our authenticity, values, soul urges. It gives a certain faith in our uniqueness and less dependency on outside factors. “As you experiment with your own path”, says Fritz, “you will become an expert on your own creative process, and that is the only one that is directly relevant in your life” … “Others won’t always understand what you are creating”, (Fritz, pg. 126). When we are true to our creative urges the ways we create will not look similar to anyone else’s and that’s the beauty of our unique expression at play!

Circumstances are often thought to be the reason we can create something or not, what drives our behavior. Victor Frankl, in his structural leaning towards meaning discovered something more profound at play in the concentration camp.  Dieters are also a great example. Many who try to lose weight by changing their consumption of food also find themselves in a reactive/responsive pattern of losing weight when they change their diets (circumstances) and gaining weight back when they stop (different circumstances). There’s been no structural change only behavioral change which sets up a cycle of oscillation. When we depend on our circumstances to decide on behavior, we are at risk of being swayed away from our deeper desires.  “In the reactive-responsive orientation, people look to the circumstances to provide them with satisfaction……In the orientation of the creative, you create your own satisfactions, independent of circumstances. Then you bring satisfaction to those circumstances in which you are involved”, (Fritz, pg. 191).

Some of the most inspiring speeches in history have been orations based on the power of the creative orientation. Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream” speech. John F Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high”. The message being, we don’t go to a responsive-reactive place no matter what you say or do. We stay focused on our deepest values and vision.

As I sit here writing this blog on the balcony of Casa Rumi, with its brick cupolas and iconic presence in this small Mexican Bay town of Sayulita, I reflect on this being one of my most favorite creations. I am in awe of Villa Poma de Amor, Villa Love Poem, ( It is here because I loved it into being, from digging out the foundation with our dear Mexican workers, to designing the rounded architecture inspired by my travels to Greece, to working with all the artisans that filled this Villa with their creativity. What started as “one day I want to create a house overlooking a big body of water where I can write poetry” became this extraordinary Villa overlooking a beautiful bay and the ocean. I get to love it, share it, marvel at it and savor all the relationships and memories that evolved in the process of building. I get to reflect on the huge gratitude I feel for all the collaboration that went into creating this vision, including with my dear friend and financial partner, Lloyd Haines, who eventually left our partnership but played such an important role in its infancy and development. (Creating is always dependent on so much help. The seed doesn’t bloom on its own!)  I get to write poetry on this balcony and hear how others love staying in their round love-filled casas! A vision, a soul urge at one time, now a reality. I ‘ve never lost my child-like sense of awe about the power of the creative orientation and its seemingly mystical, magical, Grace. It always amazes me!

Life is an art and I love creating. I am grateful for all the other artists that create in their own unique ways, writers and poets that inspire my expression, painters that add beauty and passion to my home, musicians that have kept my heart sensitively open, been muses to writing lyrics and filled me with bliss when running. Creativity and love have always been my guiding lights.

“Yo pinto”, “I paint” said, Ricardo Ortiz, as we walked over from his gallery in San Miquel, Mexico to the shipping store. I’d bought the painting after lusting over a photo of it on my phone for days. He was sharing his philosophy of art with me. Ricardo told me that sometimes he doesn’t sell a painting for a very long time and when he gets discouraged, he repeats this mantra in his mind, “Yo Pinto”, so he doesn’t forget who he is and what he does (whatever the circumstances!).

For those of us who love to create, life is precious. What do you want to create in this chapter of your life? What is your mantra?