I was reading about a new popular book out by a Navy Seal Commander called “Make Your Bed” and it brought to mind, several things:
- 1) I’ve been talking about this for years, so I’m glad someone wrote a book about it. I try to make up mine every day.
- 2) One of my favorite writers and philosophers is Dr. Jordan Peterson, and he talks about this too. He says most millennials would do better to change the world by learning to make up their bed than protesting, or getting worked up about politics.
Check out some of Peterson’s videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/JordanPetersonVideos
3) “Movement & Meaning” was partially about the same subject- taking simple action to make your life better and getting a little bit of momentum at a time.
It also brought to mind some of the research I did on the unconscious mind, and on the work of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell as I was writing “Movement & Meaning”. One of the key discoveries I made is that meaning is not meaning in and of itself. You can’t just say – I want to have meaning and then you’ll have it. You have to get up and actually do something, like exercise, or volunteer, or make your bed, and learn something about the world around you and about yourself. That’s why I pushed hard to just have people get up and go for a walk. The walk is the only meaning, at least at first. Once this type of basic independence is achieved, then a greater good and a deeper meaning can be found, perhaps.
That is what this Navy Seal Commander is getting at in “Make Your Bed”. We are exercising our free will in the most basic and elementary way. Some people have a hard time in even doing this. Yet, they want to argue about politics? Let’s start by getting our beds made. Seriously.
This is an excerpt from “Movement & Meaning” which touches on the same thing:
Stories convey emotions. Emotions inspire us and motivate us into action. Stories give us a way to make sense of the world. As unconscious as it may be, the underlying story of movement and exercise is that life means something, which is where the story begins. We care enough to get up and put on our shoes and move. We believe and have hope, crossing the void of helplessness and hopelessness, and strengthen the mind and spirit through our movement.
Consider again the work of story-writing expert Dr. Robert McKee. McKee teaches in his popular lectures and workshops on “Story” that modern American society has seen the destruction of meaning itself. The things which Americans looked to for meaning have changed, for better or for worse. McKee teaches what a meaningful story actually is—a leap of faith, a crucial decision, a change in values, conflict, spiritual growth, or a crossing of a void into the unknown.
The protagonist (main character) of a good story tries to do the right thing, or at least what they think is right at the time, no matter the consequences. McKee’s students, such as Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, (based on the books by consummate novelist and storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien), have seen huge success because good stories resonate in a culture where traditional forms of meaning have broken down and there is a lingering confusion as to what the purpose of life is.
Throughout recorded history, some stories or myths have stood the test of time and share common themes. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a book by the renowned comparative mythologist and scholar Joseph Campbell, is an extraordinary work, examining and comparing at length the historical commonalities of stories and mythology.
Many popular modern writers, most notably George Lucas with his hugely successful Star Wars franchise, have been influenced by Campbell’s work. Surveying geographically disparate cultures thousands of miles apart as well as various cultures at different points in history, Campbell revealed what he called the universal journey of the hero. All myths, according to Campbell, share a fundamentally similar structure which he calls a monomyth—the hero’s journey.
In the post-industrial, post-tribal world, where one’s future is largely up to you and you alone, Campbell’s work can be particularly insightful. Man needs myths, stories, and heroes because a world without stories is a world without meaning. In a well-known quote, Campbell summarizes the monomyth:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Throughout history, stories have served many purposes: to maintain social order, reinforce cultural values, promote spiritual growth and maturity, or to teach moral lessons, often telling us what we already know, but what we need to be reminded of again and again. We may not always feel like it, but we are all living out a story. Our story doesn’t have to involve miracles, dragons, or dramatic endings but we all have conflicts, dreams, and challenges.
Anything meaningful done in life requires commitment to heroic ideals. You could decide to take this hero’s path Campbell wrote about by practicing the discipline and commitment you develop through exercise in your own life story. You could give more of yourself to this world. You aren’t a member of a tribe, stuck in a life you didn’t choose, with a chief telling you what to do. Ordinary people can have extraordinary virtue and you can be a hero as well.
The story for many of us has to change to the most basic of concepts, before we can change the world:
- Acknowledging the free will to act
- Taking and owning your own life, having personal responsibility
- Hygiene basics
- Getting organized
- Walking every day
These type of things add up quickly!. Now go make your bed!
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