Archive for May, 2012
I did an interview for the Seekers Journey which focuses on how we follow hero’s journeys in our lives. I expanded it to talk about the Virgin’s journey in life as well (second half of the interview). It was fun to muse on life and our journeys. I think I will try video blogging, if I can figure out the technology. here’s my first video post co-opted from youtube…
Video is humbling. Technical difficulties and all…
It is Valedictorian time again. Young people, and their teachers and mentors, all over the world are searching for words of inspiration.
Last year I attended the local high school ceremony and everyone said some version of “Find a place where people are in need and spend your life being useful.” This is really good advice. Actually, I would say it is half of a good piece of advice.
I think everyone also needs to use their life to awaken the seed of something wonderful that is inside them and nourish it. Every person has a star inside them that needs to shine. Queue the Marianne Williamson poem here. This is the pitch to go on a Virgin’s journey (although I don’t want to be the one saying that to high school kids). The journey to know in your heart that you are of intrinsic worth and to bring your unique self to life.
Here are my top 3 ways to follow your star, and bring that unique part of you to life.
1. Awaken to your heart’s yearning
Before you can follow your dream you have to have some idea of what it is. To do this you need to be connected to your self . The most basic way to do this is to practice self-care. Explore what music you like, find your favorite foods, create a look that expresses your sense of color, texture, style in clothing or a collage. All of these activities bring you in touch with your unique way of viewing the world and make you conscious that you exist. Journaling is another great avenue as it creates a dialogue with your thoughts.
You have to start with a connection to who you are. For goodness sake do not jump to “How will this get me a job?” The Virgin’s journey is about putting passion in your life. I’m not going to tell you this journey will get you a job (although it might) but I will say, happiness is found here.
2. Find a Secret World
This is a temporary Secret World where you can grow while you are still vulnerable. A nest or a cocoon. Virgins need a place where they can shut down their fear centers for a while and explore what they love. Neuroscience has shown us creativity requires a person to be in a state where s/he is not censoring his/herself. Virgins need to be in a place, a structure, in which they can be playful. Find this place where you can make the effort to grow into your best self. Often it is with true friends and always in an environment that makes you feel alive.
Holding a secret for yourself, away from the critical or fear-driven world, is an act of rebellion – a shift from being externally driven to being internally driven. Everyone needs to be able to do this in order to eventually weather the hardships of life.
It is a recognition that you are entitled to take up some space in life. You don’t need permission or approval to hold a dream for yourself. In your Secret World you can have a healthy sense of entitlement. Not all the way to narcissism but you get to play a leading role in the story of your life.
3. Embrace Unintended Consequences
Not everything you try is going to be successful. I have called them unintended consequences, some might call them mistakes. Heroes have clear goals and see mistakes as potentially life threatening. Virgins recognize mis-steps (unintended consequences) as objects of curiosity.
When you enter this place of the unexpected, a space opens up. There is an opportunity to be creative; filter this new reality through your unique perspective. You may be inspired to recombine things or add a tail . You may have a good laugh and start again. Mis-steps are to be viewed with curiosity. The Virgin’s world is like a painting. The negative space is interesting and helps define the positive space. The key is to take baby steps and make small mis-steps. Then you can embrace those unexpected outcomes with curiosity and joy. “Oh the places you’ll go…”
Everyone needs to connect with their creative ability. The ability to create a story, or a life. Don’t just be heroes in the service of others. Find your passion and follow it. And write stories about it.
Anyone know a great story written about graduating from High School? Glee had a good couple of episodes.
I saw the Avengers last night and I think it was a new look at a hero movie. It wasn’t all about how bad the villain was and the need for the Hero to face his fear. The villain was fascinating to look at, moved with a creepy placoid scale articulation but didn’t pose a threat much greater than a mosquito to our heroes. The problem was there were so many of them and they just keep coming. But every arrow, every tactic to kill one, worked perfectly.
The real question of the movie was what does it mean to be a hero? And what does it mean to be a leader? It was an exploration of the essential nature of the archetypes of The Hero and The Lover King. And then it did an interesting thing. The movie connected itself to our real lives in many subtle references making us think about how our Hero nature and our Lover King nature plays out in our real lives.
Let’s look at these three aspects one at a time. The Avengers takes a collection of super heroes and shows you the various incarnations of being a hero. Is heroism fueled by your blind rage which causes you to completely ignore fear and really assert you will against the will of others (The Hulk). If you can harness it you can give shape to your world – make things happen. Is that being a hero?
Iron Man has tons of resources and smarts which he can use to change the world, which he will do as long as it makes him look good to the girl or entertains him. Is doing the right thing for self aggrandizement being heroic?
Captain America would argue it is not. To him being a hero is to attach to the power of knowing you would lay your life down in the service of others because it is the right thing to do as a man. In the end this is what Iron Man does, so the message of the movie is that a true hero is one who is willing to self-sacrifice for the good of others. And then they make these super heroes do everyday things like crack jokes and plan to go out for dinner. Is this a message that we, the ordinary people, are able to be heroic, just like the agent who collected baseball cards and the old man who refused to bow down to a bad leader.
Next let’s look at what it says about being a Lover King. The Hero is told what his people need from him and does it. The Lover King assumes the responsibility of knowing how to lead his people to safety and prosperity. Here we have a panel of Leaders who fire a missile on New York, the heart of art and culture in America. They approach leadership from a mechanistic standpoint coldly determining that containment is their priority. They favour the development of weapons of mass destruction (the mechanical option) or the collective ability of people with super Human qualities. This is the real villain of the story. Bad leadership over good leadership. There is a profound message in this movie and even more so in the prequel, Thor, that being a king is not about having people bow before you. It is stepping up to the responsibility of providing good people with your protection, your promise to provide for them, and your pledge to preserve what is good with all your power. In so doing you become a better man.
Lastly, there are numerous references to previous movies and comic strips (Thor and The Wizard of Oz), references to 911 (images of police with a backdrop of flames and crumbling buildings, planes or flying creatures crashing into buildings, chaos in the streets of New York as the world as we know it comes to an end, a cell phone call to a loved one while your death is imminent) and several human universals like people care about each other, people joke, people eat, people are jealous of each other. All of this links the viewer of the movie from what’s going on in the story to what is going on in their real lives. Is there an intentional message here to have us all think about being a hero or being a good leader in our everyday live?
There are several Snow White movies out or coming out so I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the essential nature of the story. Snow White is a Virgin in every sense of the word. She lives in a world where she keeps herself small in order to be safe from the envy of her Step-Mother. Envy is the desire to steal the soul of another person. The Wicked Step-Mother has power over Snow White but no love. This is what makes her dangerous because she occupies the place where young girls look for a sense that they are loveable.
Snow White is asleep to her potential. She does not see her own beauty which is a synonym for her soul. The purpose of the story is for her to stop eating the poison apple – ie. stop believing the words that tell her she is of no value and wake up to her intrinsic worth.
I’ve often puzzled over why Snow White escapes her Step Mother only to start cooking and cleaning for eight little men. After much puzzling, I think it has two messages. She is taking action to make a place for herself, finding that her womanly gifts of making a home can be responded to with love.
But mostly she is grounding herself in the mundane so she has a container in which to explore her spiritual side. It becomes the container in which love can grow. I’m not saying that she consciously knew this. I think the story illuminates the human condition without need for explanation. Do this and you will feel that. It is the same reason we instinctively clean out the cupboards or buy a new dress when we are feeling the chaos of life. These actions create the container that we can grow in, relieve the sense that we could spin out of control while we do the internal work.
The climax of the story should be when she is on the brink of understanding that she is worthy of great love and then all is lost when she eats the poison apple (literally this time). Snow White stories today are turning into hero stories where she becomes a great warrior. I think this is a mistake. Snow White is appeasing her Step Mother until she can no longer hide her light. She expands her world and finds a place where she can know her starlight but she eats the poison apple that sends her into a coma until love awakens her. It is the story of the need for love in order to live.
I saw the Julia Roberts version of Snow White, Mirror, Mirror, and although it was well costumed and had some clever lines I think they failed to show the archetypal essence of the story. Snow White never showed a need for love. The protagonist was said to be The Evil Queen but the audience didn’t care about her nor should they being that they are probably teenagers. If they wanted to make a Snow White story for adults they should have looked to the evil mother in Precious or Black Swan. Those women sucked the souls out of their daughters and their back-story gave hints as to why.
Which brings me to my last point. The essence of the Snow White story can be very powerful in a modern setting. Precious is Snow White on the quest to understand that she is worthy of love. Pretty Woman is also a Snow White story in that her mother always told her she was only worthy of bums and it is easier to believe the bad stuff. She was eating that poison apple until through the kiss of Edward she saw she was of more value.
I’m looking forward to Snow White and the Huntsman. I know they have made it a hero story but I am hoping they have elements of the Virgin Snow White as well.
What do you think of the Snow White story?