Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Will you take the blue pill, or the red pill?

5 miles in the rain this morning. My shoes got wet, but actually, they haven't been dry since I bought them.

But I'm stuck on another topic, and I know I promised to offend people, but I'm not feeling too offensive today, maybe tomorrow.

I've been reading some books that are pretty amazing, and very much out of the norm for a science oriented bloke like myself. But my background is in psychology, so maybe its not all that surprising. And this is one of the things that always leads me back to my belief in the commonality of all people, and I can't help but think, if we appreciated that fact a little better, we wouldn't be so quick to blow each other up. But maybe I'm being naïve, and I just don't appreciate the value of a good barrel of oil.

Anyway, there are a number of books by a dude named Joseph Campbell, who studied what's best described as "comparative mythology." You might have seen him on PBS with some great interviews with Bill Moyers, that get aired every once in a while. He likes to convey the myths of different cultures and show how their passage through the sociological grapevine has revealed the similarites of our minds and souls.

The Hero's Journey is the best example, as it describes the character's passage to a fundamentally different world, where he obtains a prized object or a piece of knowledge, and returns to his own world, where his peeps can reap the benefits of his gift.

First, there's the call to adventure, where the idea is planted, which the hero sometimes refuses... initially. King Arthur spots a deer and feels the urge to chase him. Gautama, the future Buddha, comes across the four sights and seeks to overcome the ills of the world.

The first threshold is essentially the point of no return. People love to examine the pop culture analogies to these themes, like when Neo has to decide whether he will take the blue pill, or the red pill, and Luke Skywalker escaping the storm troopers on Mos Eisley.

The hero is tested, usually three times. Gautama was assaulted by rocks and burning coals and boiling mud as he sat under the Bo tree in the quest for enlightenment. Luke almost got squashed in that trash compactor thing.

Of course, there is the realization of the task. There may be a practical gain, like when Prometheus steals the flame. Or it may be an expansion of consiousness, or a transcendence to another form, and sometimes a deification of the hero.

And the hero returns to the world and gives the gift. Fire. Enlightenment. Forgiveness - everlasting life. Inspiration.

Obviously I recommend the books, especially The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and the Bill Moyers interviews are very good, and they're on DVD. But I think its interesting to think about your own story. I think it's a very personal thing, so I don't expect people to answer these questions in comments, but you might like to think about it for yourself.

What was/is your call to adventure?
Where is the threshold, beyond which you are fully committed?
What are the tests?
How will your task be realized?
What will be the gift you bring back for the world?

It's kind of silly, but the marathon is a similar call to adventure for me, and maybe you too. So maybe you have that one, but you don't have to have just one. You're an exceptional person! You can pursue two calls or three calls or four. I have three.

Listening to: John Mayer - Home Life (And I will go to my grave; With the love that I gave; Not just some melody line; On a radio wave.)

Okay, Keith tired now. Too much bloggy, need sleepy.


Bar-Bar-A said...

Seeing as how none of that has a thing to do with economics, I didn't really "get" all that. Because in the end, economics is really all that matters.

But is he trying to convey that dismemberment and a night-sea journey are close to one-and-the-same? And that they call along a category of "adventure"? Yikes!

I paid $2.84/gallon for gas yesterday. I only need to fill up every 2-3 weeks; I was wondering at the time if that was "high" or "low". Then I snapped out of it and recalled the days...not that long ago, when I paid $1.29.

Anonymous said...

"Okay, this week... I promise to do something stupid. I know I've said it before, but I mean it this time. This time it will stick! I will post something offensive, or I will eat something that's innappropriate, or I will give way too much information about something. I promise."