Thursday, November 6, 2008

Life as Myth

What if we lived every day of our lives as though we were creating myth?

(creative energy 2005 oil on wood)

More and more I am aware that we are existing in two simultaneous realms. I am living my life on the biological level, but at the same time I am creating in another world: the world of ideas, where symbols incubate, myths are born, memes root and grow, and a human lifespan is but a sentence in the epic story of humanity. Yet it is a sentence. Our lives do play a part in the whole of human experience.

With our very human trait of moral choice, with Conscience intact we make decisions every moment of every day that build into the overall story of our life. What do our actions add up to? Would we act differently if we were to stop and recognize the symbolic power of our actions? Myth and symbol are extremely powerful forces in our lives whether we are aware of it or not.

Look at the the incredible story of President Elect Barack Obama as an example. There is his actual presidency, what he will and will not accomplish, which will reveal itself through time. Yet, very clearly a symbolic power was in full force during this man's rise to the US presidency. He made history. His story is clearly mythic. Barack Obama's contribution will be the last sentence of a chapter. It is the much needed resolve in a long sad song. The framing of a very specific painting of America.

And at the same time, he will usher in the next era of American politics, like Lincoln and FDR. Obama will, on the symbolic level, be the fulcrum between the collapse of a conservative ideology and the birth of the next version of America. Exactly what that will look like remains to be seen. How it will be done is still up in the air. Will this be the era of green energy development, environmental sensitivity, humanist policies? Will science once again have a place at the table? Will we raise new generation of stronger, healthier, smarter Americans? We can only hope.

Obama was able to capture the nation's top prize on a platform held together by just two words: Hope and Change. The youth and disenfranchised embraced and supported him, projecting their own struggle into those two words, and then stood up, not for him so much, as for themselves. We are a nation conditioned to respond to brands, and this was a brand many were starving for: Hope and Change. And then there was the show of feeling and compassion as seen in the image of our chosen leader with those tears on his face. This was symbolic and touched something very deep for many.

But, I'll put politics aside now and return to my point, which is the recognition of the power that each life has in the mythic realm. Each life contributes to the pool of human experience, and to the story we collectively tell to describe that experience. I sometimes look back at my life and see how much I have sleepwalked through. I have not often shaped my part in the myth with conscious contribution. But occasionally I get a glimpse. Because even when we have not fully awakened to this understanding, an outside event can occur that bisects both realities and for a an instant we see through ourselves and feel the larger unfolding story. The world mirrors our story back to us and says "You are a part of the whole."

I want to endeavor to live my life consciously aware of my personal myth. And I do not want just any old tired myth, I want an empowering, adventurous one that reveals the buoyancy and grace of the human spirit. One full of challenge and surprise. I want a life filled with love, laughter, music, art, the sea, and plenty exotic fruits to be sure. We all face difficulties and tragedy in life, that is a given it seems, but how we respond to life's events and how our story ends, is our decision. We do not choose our start, but we can choose our ending. The choices we make today will lead us to that ending.

So as I move into what could be a rather dismal winter in this rainy, gray northwest corner of the USA, I am going to do my best to keep a part of myself tuned to the larger story that is unfolding. To see my actions, even if very small, as symbolic and meaningful. Thanks Obama for waking me, us, up.

1 comment:

Friendly Earthling... said...

Love this piece above. Nice timing for me to come across it...Thank you for sharing it. Happy Myth-making to you. I've no doubt our myths have added to the dimensions of our experiences. Thanks again.