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Reply To: Heroic Fear, Foolishness, and Creative Ecstasy”, with Leigh Melander, Ph.D.”


I enjoyed this essay as well Leigh!

So here comes my long ramble.

First the broader definition of artist:

I do agree with you…an artist does not have to fit into a small category.
Yes, my Mother was an artist as well as astronomer (but there is rhythm in the care and positioning of a telescope, mount, a drive…just as there is rhythm in dance or in the careful pencil and brush strokes my Mother made on paper and canvas!)

My Dad was a mathematician…taught higher math in high school. And he was a certified VW mechanic, but I saw him build boneyard VWs and restore them with shining paint. His garage was like a mythic forge to me! It was an impassioned and passionate undertaking and an Art!

Believe me: if you saw his fully restored 1974 mild custom green VW Thing…you would know! Even bleeding the brakes was an art…not to mention it goes back to rhythm as well because I cannot seem to escape those dance metaphors!
I think one can find art in many unexpected places!
I’ve found that the skills of a local foreman and welder are most definitely art! Especially when one sees how creative someone must be to make certain things fit and weld to shape and size. It’s really beautiful!
My Dad never counted all his talents but he could carve wood too. And tune my tap shoes…he had a precise eye for many things and a creative way of making things work…he had all kinds of skills! But I digress.

Back to the fear of not succeeding and being scorned as a “fool.”

My first thought is that some people are just “trying to survive,” to “get by” from day to day. They have responsibilities perhaps families to support? Sometimes stress can crop up…and they become overwhelmed.

So the very idea of answering a “call” to a higher adventure feels “foolish.”
Or “insane.” There is a lot of pressure in this world (*care*)and Joe Campbell was already noting that in the past.

Of course one does not want to “abandon their children or spouse ” for the sake of adventure for “self.”

I’ve heard of this extreme too, where some people did that. BUT I know it’s not part of an “authentic call” to adventure.
Unfortunately these kind of “happenings” give a “bad rap” to the whole idea of the call to “individual adventure.” It is sad, because that is kind of a broad brush.
But for those who are “just trying to survive,” I think the “fear” is the whole thing will fall apart if they dare to answer that “higher call.”
So I’m guessing that would be like the fear of “the abyss.”
I do not know about Minotaurs James beyond the myths. But I have seen “a balrog” crop up to challenge the inner psyche. I’m not sure my response was appropriate to the challenge…still working that out ha ha.
I know there is a lot of comparison between the individual journey myths, small collective journey myths like LOTR, which I love And the potential larger grand collective myth/journeys to be had.
I loved the way John Bucher used an And/Both approach to the collective journey vs individual journey in his latest essay. It makes sense to me! And gives balance.
But now the individual journey (or “hero journey” though I recently learned that was not coined by Campbell) has grown a shadow side.
At least that is the perception I have.

The hero turned egotist or tyrant.

This view is very understandable in today’s world. Makes sense and I can see that is possible or at least one possibility, while at the same time recognizing when this happens, that the “tyrannical or ego-hero”  has perhaps “failed their journey test,” anyway????

But in FEAR of this, there seems to be more emphasis on commitment to collective/community (which is a Good thing and worthy and compassionate cause!)
Yet the irony…resides in your eloquent quote Leigh: “

”if one refuses the call to be grander than themselves [they] lose the opportunity to bring boons back to the village.”

Boons, which would be beneficial to the  collective community.

However, to me, it seems as though today’s approach to myth is how we can do it together? How we can collaborate?

That is certainly a wonderful earth from moon view!!

But sometimes I wonder if there is an idea that if any journey does not include an entire collective, then the journey becomes invalid?


For me, I prefer John Bucher’s And/Both approach, an approach you are also hint in your essay (smile.) Answer the call and bring back boons to the community.

I think this would explain another bit of the fear of scorn…if one dares answer that higher call to adventure.

If you dare your own call are you somehow “not committing to others?”

And your duty is to commit to others over your “selfish (?) desire” for adventure?
Well this is certainly going to make a lot of people put on the brakes and not take the risk to “stand out.”
No one wants to be a “fool” or a “selfish fool!”
The sad part is this suggests that there is only one way to commit to others or community. And this also broad brushes the negative expectation that all heroes or individual journeyers have a great potential to turn bad. It never addresses the reluctant journeyers, who Stephen has often mentioned. Or the call “taking one by surprise.” 
But knee jerk reactions are a part of life alas! It is what it is! Very human…and yes understandable in this tough, frightening world, a world which also has so much beauty between the sorrows!
The trick is to ALLOW for the chance of at least one (or more) Parzival who finds his/her true honor and courage. And brings a great boon to all.!
But the education or perception seems to be going the other way…

“Beware the individual journeyman/woman!!! (out for their own egos most likely!)”

Maybe, it seems unfair for just one person to be credited for boons and gifts? Who knows? *shrug* And well it is fun to give group gifts sometimes. 🙂

But just because Narcissists stand out does that mean everyone who might “stand out,” is probably a “narcissist?”
Yeah they are plenty out there for sure…*eye* but this to me just muddies the waters.
Just because a psychopath thinks he is a “hero,” or a “god” does not make that true.
But in counterpoint that does not mean by default every individual journeyer is a psychopath!
Because we are all bound to meet others on our journey paths, guides, teachers, friends as well as perhaps face those wastelands where the path is not as clear and there are no guides or clear answers for awhile. (Like Parzival)

But oh boy! The world can be a confusing place!

You really have to feel for people of All Ages and backgrounds navigating our world. 🙏
Sometimes it really does feel like a labyrinth right out in the open! Borrowing from your thread James…;-)
Tangled thread is a good metaphor!

Well getting tangled that seems like a journey of the fool…but the fool takes chances because that’s the archetype…oh boy again!

Maybe Ariadne will appear just maybe…there will be a lucky pair of scissors…or you learn how to weave in the dark when you are still.

And alas Leigh!  All you said on dance has set my mind on yet another “thread”of thought. But I will close this one for now.