One year later … Wending his way from Buffalo to Anchorage. My nephew heads off this May for America’s last frontier. Enjoying the journey; enjoying himself! And what an adventure, what a year we’ve shared—one for the library!
This question and answer piece is a recycled favorite. I wrote it three years ago for a very special person. The young man is my nephew and this May he graduates. He’s heading to Buffalo to live with his aunt while he plots his next adventure and considers a world of potential.
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I am a sophomore in college, studying to be an electrical engineer. Most of the other students in my major elected engineering for the earning potential and I find many of the professors to be arrogant and stiff. I want to do something different with my experience but I don’t know what that is and I don’t see it modeled in the world. Is it wrong to not know what I want to do with my life and how do I go about figuring it out?
Purpose, Potential and the Holy Grail
Grab your fedora and bullwhip; questing for your life’s purpose and potential amounts to no less than searching for the holy grail of conscious living, and what better role model to emulate than the learned professor of archeology Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. and his twin persona, the swashbuckling Indiana.
Equal parts, scholar and adventurer, romantic and cynic, treasure hunter, detective, lone wolf and patriot—to reach your life’s riches, follow Dr. Jones’ lead and architect your own uncommonly brilliant archetype. Finding your original Self, with a capital S, and drinking from the chalice of personal Truth, demands unfathomable moxie, stamina, ingenuity and grace, all of a nature and magnitude you don’t yet realize you possess.
If what you seek amounts to a pay check and benefits, consult a career counselor—fantasy art not required. If you truly want to track your treasure within, read on, and note your first clue—the seemingly innocuous preposition, within. Approach your adventure as an archeological study of the psyche, for you must know yourself in order to become your Self. Piecing together clues of your inherent potential into a map of meaning, you will need to dodge the demons of self-defense and start excavating through endless layers of lies, denials, distortions and illusions collected and calcified over lifetimes of experience, along with the common detritus assumed through community living. The prize—illumination, to be lit from within—requires first finding and authenticating, then rigorously cleaning and restoring your natural treasure: your true Self.
Mythological Double Vision: the Trick of Triangulation
Creating a kick-ass alter ego to lead your crusade and pull you through the inevitable snake pits and sand traps of fear, doubt and confusion doubles as strategy and salvation. A dual persona allows you to keep part of your awareness present in the here and now—attending class or conversing with colleagues—while your second self, wholly immersed in metaphor, plots alternate realms of possibility and meaning far beyond the parameters of what Jung coined humanity’s collective unconscious. Borrowing a math analogy, this triangulation of awareness serves as a handy navigational tool that allows you to progress in quantum leaps, with two given points yielding the coordinates of an unknown, non-apparent third. Traveling clue to coordinate to clue, expanding your mind defines your core objective. Nothing new or exciting ever entered a closed mind. Truth needs an invitation, so consider it the job of your mythological match to pry, prop or even smash open the door.
Enemies, Traps and Illusions
Also known as opinions, expectations and obligations—the collective unconscious is a dark and dense domain. Finding truth, much less fanning your flicker into a flame without fear of a good public dousing, necessitates foresight and fortitude. Traveling your trail of triangulation you will face all manner of doubt and denial. Expect unsteady footing, obscured meanings and improbable possibilities. Time feels like an adversary—too fast one moment, too slow the next. Bleak feelings of isolation and hopelessness sweep the landscape like locusts, swallowing your clarity and determination in a vicious vortex of chaos and confusion. Unrelenting, the challenges keep coming, too fast to recover from one to the next. For you—but not for your ass-kicking archetype. Step your mind aside, let your heart relish the real work, and see the greater symbolism and significance in your hero’s journey. Remember that Indiana risked life and limb to rescue treasure, not for his own glory, but for the benefit of mankind. How do your trials and truth benefit others? Every demon you slay makes for one less in the world, and the Self you liberate extends permission and encouragement to others to try for the same.
The Greatest Distance Between Two Points is a Meandering Path
No quest worth its query ever beelined a straight trajectory. Be willing to wend your way where the wind blows. Aware, alert and relaxed, what greater way to spend your life than in pursuit of treasure on your own grand adventure. Enjoy the journey; enjoy your Self!