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Reply To: The Quest of Creative-Being Itself, with Mythologist Norland Tellez:

#74019

Hey There, aloberhoulser,

I’ll take a stab at your question “What does it mean ‘to reject the stereotype?'”

Recall that Norland’s remark about rejecting stereotypes was in response to my question about

the image of the ‘tortured artist.’ Some claim this is an unfortunate stereotype based on a few troubled souls (Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, and Kurt Cobain all come to mind), a stereotype that gives rise to an assumption that the greater the torment, the greater the art – but your essay suggests suffering is part of the creative process.

Stereotypes are sometimes confused with archetypes – but in general, stereotypes represent lazy thinking, reducing an individual to a clichéd “type.” Dr. Tellez clearly rejects the cliché of the “tortured artist,” as well as that of the pleasure-seeking, hedonistic artist – as do I. (Mine was what Perry Mason would call a “leading question” – in this instance, a means of launching discussion.) And Norland did not disappoint with his response.

I’m not sure that has anything to do with “accepting the call.”

Of course, pain, suffering, malaise, or discomfort of any sort could indeed be a Call to Adventure – anything that serves to invite, inspire, or drive you to step out of your comfort zone. In my case, like my artist friend Chris I mentioned a few posts above, that pain had to grow incredibly intense before I was motivated to do something about it and change my circumstances.

My friend Chris’ psychotic break with reality was a reflection, or perhaps a consequence, of his Refusal of the Call. He never arrived at a moment where he knowingly stated, or decided, “I am accepting this call” – but he did reach a point where he stopped struggling to maintain a life that was poison for him (running his late father’s construction company, administering the family trust, etc.) and embraced a completely different reality, one in which he was “following his bliss” (not that he know he was following his bliss – he was just living a simpler, more fulfilling life).

That movement was indeed “accepting the call,” whether he knew that or not – which is when his psychological crisis resolved itself and he was able to paint again. He had died to his old way of life and the expectations family and society placed on him, and segued into a reality where he valued his art enough to devote his energies to it. Of course, life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries for him; roughly every ten years he does have another episode, but usually nothing so long lasting and debilitating as that initial descent into madness.

That too was my experience. (I’d recount my tale, but that would pull us into the weeds; Chris’ story covers essentially the same ground, with the advantage that he is a creative artist – much more relevant to the topic than my own experience.)

You mention you are 50, and those questions seem your overarching theme at this point – which raises the question of where you feel you are on your path. Are you bogged down somewhere on the Road of Trials (to borrow Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey framework), or have you not left the village yet, not sure where you bliss lies or what your call is?

Those may be questions you have to answer for your self. None of us have the ability to determine what another’s bliss is (no matter what I see on the outside, each of us is alone on the inside; I have no sense of your interior life, of what might be missing and what your bliss might be). Those are questions only you can answer . . .