Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

Reply To: When the Adventure is a Drag,” with Mark C.E. Peterson, Ph.D.”


Hi Stephen,

Nice to be back fishing for coho with everyone!

I like your description of the mythological blah’s as “doldrums”… that gets at it nicely.  You’re aboard your own version of the Argo, you have provisions, you’re well armed and ready for the adventure, you’re out of sight of land on your way and then….. the wind dies and you’re just sitting there.

This happens all the time, doesn’t it?   And you know, occasionally when you feel abandoned like that, and you endure it, you get the experience of the “dark night of the soul” — which is terrible and wonderful and, at least, reminds you that you’re still on the adventure.  But that’s not EVERY TIME the wind dies.  The world requires our attention in ways that our idea of the adventure doesn’t always meet.  It’s…. what’s the right word…. icky?

Boring.  Prosaic.  Mundane.  Tedious. Exasperating. Dull. Pedestrian.

Now that I think about it, there’s a great song in the musical Pippin that captures this.


We all feel like this sometimes.

You summarized the core idea here:

It’s not difficult to catch your excitement and renewed sense of enthusiasm, seeing the metaphor hidden in the mundane. But how is this possible? Are you suggesting that we can approach the dull, dreary, demands of daily life the same as we would the images in a work of literature, poetry, art, or even a dream?

Works of imagination are one thing, but to see symbolism in concrete, literal, physical reality? What is at work here – and why does it work?

Is this what Jung means by “living the symbolic life?”

Going back to my working hypothesis about how “myth” works makes sense of this dilemma I think.  Myth is a kind of story, a narrative, that relates us to something and so any “myth” in itself isn’t a fact of some kind, but a way of relating us to the situation we find ourselves in.  The reason we get bored with life, or with anything (and here’s another one of my working hypotheses… but I’m almost sure I’m right about this :^), is that we aren’t taking it personally and when we fall out of relation with something, we aren’t taking it personally anymore.

That idea of boredom is really powerful.  (I should dig into this in my next MythBlast… Hmm.)  Think about it.  If it’s the case that boredom happens to us when we aren’t taking something personally,  then:

  • When we’re bored with politics, we aren’t taking it personally anymore.
  • When we’re bored with our relationships, we aren’t taking them personally anymore.
  • When we’re bored with religion, it’s because we aren’t taking our religious life personally anymore.   AND
  • When we’re bored with our lives…..

You get the idea.  And so… what happens?  Something happens that puts you back into relationship with the things you’d fallen out of relationship with.  Moving, my example here, is so exhausting that you really don’t want to be in relationship to it anymore.  Think about difficult times with loved ones, or with your own spiritual development… these can become so taxing that you just can’t bear it anymore…. so you fall out of relation to these experiences.  They become less meaningful.  They become boring.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.

But then, if you look directly at the reality in front of you, and think about how you are in relation to it, you might discover the relational narrative, the story, the myth, that puts you back into relationship with that thing/experience/trial/etc.

There’s a link in all of this to Martin Buber’s ideas of I/Thou and I/It.  Something to think about maybe as our conversation moves forward.

I’d say that when you find relational narratives to keep you in touch with your life, and with the world, you  are living exactly that symbolic life Jung was getting at.

Ha, moves.  I can’t escape it.  ;^)