Today I’m breaking from my pattern of a new theme each day (I made the rules, I can break them!). Instead I’m going to continue on with yesterday’s theme of “Is it Who I Am?”.
I once read most of the book The Mythic Imagination by Stephen Larsen. In it Larsen talked about life being based in myth, that we all live our lives based on one myth or another. My myth was “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” which I lived until my early 30s. It started as a child when my obvious gayness shone brighter than Rudolph’s nose (I only liked doing “girl” things and hated “boy” activities – plus I would have died and gone to heaven if one of my male grade school classmates had ever kissed me). Although it was difficult to be different and usually I hated it, I was still proud of my differences (a feeling fed by my parents who believe differences are like badges – small badges – no need to be obnoxious about it).
But, and this is the part that hurt – a lot, I wasn’t included in the Reindeer games. I was too much of a boy for the girls and too much of a girl for the boys. My friends ended up being other misfits (those of you who were friends during school with me don’t get offended – we were proud of our status).
I got through life waiting for Santa to say “Hey, without you, we couldn’t have Christmas.” Up until I started my own business (and sometimes after that) I needed constant external validation to feel good about myself.
Every action I took (or didn’t take), every attitude I had towards life was based on that need. My confidence was so tied to other people that I avoided any and all conflict (making it worse of course when it did finally happen). Because I was Rudolph waiting for Santa to acknowledge me (in a Waiting-for-Godot-never-gonna-happen way), I ignored the influence of positive people in my life. Fortunately those people stuck around, but I kept them at a distance – why would people accept me just for being me? Humph, they must be misfits too. And only Santa’s opinion counts.
After realizing this, I actively began to change my life. It’s taken years, and likely will take the rest of my life, but life without change and growth is boring.
I tried to find another myth to live by, but they didn’t work for me:
- Snow White: Waiting for someone to rescue me, persecuted by authority.
- Sleeping Beauty and Rapunsel: Ditto.
- Cinderella: Needed external assistance and deception to get away from an abusive living situation.
- And so on, and so on…
Okay, how about the male myths:
- Beauty and the Beast: If I just stalk her long enough, she’ll have to fall in love with me.
- Rumpelstiltskin: I’ll lie and cheat and steal until I get caught.
- Achilles: It’s all my mother’s fault for botching my invincibility.
- Paris: I’ll let selfish desire destroy my country, my people and my culture.
- Arthur: One deception and betrayal after another until an early death from which I’ll return “someday”.
- Christ: Ditto.
- Frosty the Snowman: I owe my life to a miracle and will die and be reborn seasonally.
I don’t know about you, but not a single one (except for maybe Frosty) sounds like a good way to live my life.
My life, therefore, is better without myth. Now, instead of living my life based on some predetermined story I didn’t write, I create my life every day.
Sure, sometimes I fall back on myth – it is a genetic predisposition after all, but I do try to turn the myth into wonder when I notice it ruling my life (for that sense of wonder read Charles de Lint or any other Mythic Fiction writer).
So, let me ask you: What’s you myth?
- Unless you know why you act a certain way, you’ll not likely change or grow.
- Rules shmules. Rules are just guidelines, especially when you’ve written them yourself.