Stephen Gerringer is the community coordinator for the Joseph Campbell Foundation. In this episode we look at the role of myth in day to day life, the power of storytelling in making sense of our lives and what the hero's journey can teach us.
You can connect with Stephen, the Joseph Campbell foundation and follow the mythic conversation online at Conversation of a Higher Order forums: https://www.jcf.org/resources/discuss/
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Episode 23 On the power of discovering your hero's journey in challenging Welcome to Brave by design, I'm your host, Laura Calil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking, Bake. Exploring the power of personal development, ensuring the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers and business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Hey, everyone, it's me, Laura. Welcome to this episode. I am really excited about my chat today with Steve Gurinder. He is someone who I met several years ago. We both share a love of storytelling, and we both feel really strongly about the power of storytelling to impact your life. If you followed any of my work, you may have heard me say things like, Do you know what story you're living by? Are you the hero or heroine of your own story? Who are the guides along the way on your path? When we put our personal journey within that more mythic sense, it can help us get much more perspective on what's going on. Step back from, you know, feeling like we're in the weeds and helped drive more purpose and clarity in our lives. It's really one of the foundations of brand storytelling, which many of you know, that I have done for many, many years a za freelancer in is one of the things that I teach today. So I am just beyond thrilled that we have Steve here. And if you don't know who Joseph Campbell is, you're gonna find out a little bit about Joe today. But he is an absolute icon in the storytelling world. Every well known movie that you have ever seen is based on the story structure that he uncovered. And we're gonna talk about that a little bit today. So this is a longer episode. So I want to give you a little bit of a rundown of how this episode plays out. In case you don't have an hour the 1st 30 minutes or so, we really talk about story structure. We talk about myth. We talk about creating personal myth, and I think you're gonna get a lot of value out of that. In the second half of today's program, we focus a little bit more on Steve's story and how he got into becoming such an advocate for storytelling and Joseph Campbell's work and mythology in general. So you're gonna learn about that in the second half, regardless of if you can only listen to the beginning or yet decide to take in the whole thing. I really hope you enjoy this episode. Uh, I think it's It's It's definitely a treat for me to always be able to speak with Steve, Another thing I want to let you know about before we get into this. As some of you know, I have been spending a lot of time thinking very deeply about how to best serve you my audience and also the community of girl bosses, women entrepreneurs and individuals who are going through pretty cataclysmic change right now. We just had this statistic come out that I believe 30/30 million Americans alone have filed for unemployment. And you know, that just got me thinking, Okay, how can I serve? How can I serve? What can I offer? What can I dio? And you know, I have amassed quite a bit of knowledge since I started my freelance writing business in 2013 learning how to build a six figure freelancing business without going crazy without working. 80 hours a week with clients coming to me. Um, and I decided, you know, Laura, for a lot of people who may have been forced out of a job or may have been furloughed, why don't you share that knowledge? Why don't you share what you learned? And so with that in mind, I have been furiously working on putting together an e book for you called the Six Habits to six Figure B to be freelance writers. That is all about what I have learned along that path. And I am going to share with you some really, um, critical things that I think a lot of individuals get wrong when they start freelancing. The book is focused on freelance writers because that's really where my background lines, however, the tips that you're going to receive in this book and some of the prompts that I'm gonna give you are pretty universal. So I want to just tell you a little bit more about that in case you are interested. So I really taken everything I've learned on building my own multi six figure freelance business, which, by the way, guys, I started out with my first contract at $6500 a month. That was about six weeks after I declared myself open for business. I'm gonna walk you through those steps. So in the e book, you're gonna learn why you are probably positioning yourself to be underpaid and overworked where define clients. If you have zero connections, most people do not know that. When I started my business, I had 0000 connections and my business in the beginning was not built through referral. So I'm going to explain how I did that. I'm gonna teach you how to feel confident, pitching complete strangers, the script for opening a conversation with new prospects and three things you need to do to build instant credibility, how to figure out pricing, how to build that steady stream of clients, how to build and maintain healthy client relationships that has them coming back and how to increase the scope of work. So to take a really small project, you know, sometimes people will have you work with them and they'll say, Ari, well, let's just try something out. So how to take a really small project and build it into a six figure on multi six figure project. And so we're gonna talk all about that in the e book. It's only 25 bucks on pre order. It's coming out on May 19th. After that, the price doubles, and there's also a limited time bonus masterclass that you can also purchase when you grab the book that is working directly with me. I will be teaching during that masterclass and I will be reviewing your material. So if you have material websites, um, questions on target markets, uh, cold emails that you're sending out wondering about pitches, that's the time to work with me. Ah, and I'm really excited to be able to offer that, so you can find out much more about this by grabbing the link at Brave by design dot Net. It's right on the home page, or it will be in the show notes for this episode. But it is a way that I am beginning to pivot because I really want to serve you guys. I really want to show up, and I'm very focused on mindset. I'm very focused on personal development, but I'm also realizing, hey, we can combine that with very practical, tangible outcome based strategies to help you all. So I hope that that is useful for you. And if you have any questions, um, you know, shoot me and out we'll talk about it. Uh, anyway, without further ado, let's dive into this episode was Steve Gurinder. Everyone, welcome to this episode of Brave by design. We are in for a real treat today because I have sieving guarantee or with me. And you may not have heard of Stephen, but I'm pretty sure after this episode you will not forget him. He is the he is. I mean, there is no title that does Stephen Justice. So I'm going to say he's one of the scholars that works for the Joseph Campbell Foundation. And today you're gonna learn about the Joseph Campbell Campbell Foundation. You're also gonna learn about what it stands for and the work of Joseph Campbell around the heroes journey and how we might be able to use that in this time of crisis. Stephen, welcome to break by design.
Well, thank you for having me unimpressed. You found me at home today.
It is such a pleasure to have you here. You and I have done some work together with the foundation. You have been with them for a very long time, and that's and we got We met a few years ago. It, uh, one of the retreats that they held at Esalen, which is a beautiful retreat center in Big Sur, California for those of you who don't know and I was really captivated by your knowledge of Joseph Campbell, your knowledge of the hero's journey of mythology Uh, and I really wanted to have you on today because we are going through a form of crisis, and I think that we can look to, um, his work to help us make sense of it. So let's start there. Can you tell us just briefly, Who is Joseph Campbell? And what did he stand for?
Joseph Gamble briefly. Ah, best known as a comparative mythology. Gist. Ah, he study admissible cultures. He taught it. Sarah Lawrence for 34 years wrote a number of books, is best known as the hero with 1000 Faces, but he has a couple dozen other books, and he's very prolific. Is he passed away in 1987 and he keeps writing books, publishes another one or two. It kind of like the way Jerry Garcia keeps turning out amuse. Amazing. Oh, yeah, he left a lot of material that we the Joseph Campbell Foundation Ah, which in a sense, is we're his literary air. Bob Walter, the executor, uh, Joe's Will is chairman of the foundation and order directors and so on. But the foundation is designed to protect, preserve and perpetuate Jo's legacy. So Joe explored myths and what he is perhaps best known for. Ah, even though his thing didn't happen until after he died with a series of interviews with Bill Moyers on PBS called The Power of Myth, which touched so many souls
and many people might have heard of that who are less?
Absolutely yeah, In fact, they still bring it out every so often. Until recently, it was on Netflix until they retired that it will probably come back at some point. And it's amazing, you know, 25 30 years later, yes, still homes up a couple of talking heads, but what what he's best known for is in 1949 he published The Hero with 1000 Faces, which looks a myth and what has come to be known, the motif of the hero's journey, which threads its way through most myths and, oddly enough, through most stories of humankind, we've been telling these stories from the beginning. You know, narrative is so important with your storytelling creatures, and it's how we define our life often, how we find purpose and give meaning to it. But this pattern that he discovered, uh, and it's not that he came up with it, he just finally noticed G It threads its way through all these tales. Yeah, it's ah, it definitely is important in time of crisis like this. Ah, and crisis and individual lives to the the short thumbnail Reader's Digest abridged version of that is that essentially, you know someone. Here's a call your in the ordinary world. Ah, and something isn't right. Something is missing. Something is tragic. Eso your called out of that ordinary world. You go on a journey with numerous ordeals crises, you know, an increasing tension of crisis that you face and you come to a point of initiation where you face a major crisis you confront in yourself or in the world what it is that's missing. And often that initiation takes the form of the death of rebirth experience, Which is why, in myths and fairy tales, you have a lot of dying and resurrected gods. Yeah, you were very familiar with that in our culture. And then there's the return to the ordinary world where you bring back a boom, something you've gained on that journey to share. So you start in the ordinary world, and this is important. There only really three stages to the hero's journey. A lot of people will talk about 17 stages because Joe describes some crises that will run across, but not every one of those occurs. Others. Chris Vogeler with Disney many, many years ago in the late seventies, circulated a memo that has been expanded into a book called The Writers Journey, which pointed out Campbell's work and has been consciously adopted by a lot of Hollywood. So that has 12 stages to it. And that's where a lot of people may be familiar with this or in the work of George Lucas. But really, Joe has just those three stages are primary that everybody goes through that departure from the ordinary world initiation. You know, this crisis that there's us apart puts us back together and then a return to the ordinary world. And that is a place where we all are right now. Usually we think of this as an individual journey, and we think of it is, you know, going out into the world. And the genius Joseph Campbell had with this was in connecting this not just something in dusty tomes on library shelves somewhere, you know, something scholarly, but relating it to really life. Tow us today because the reason this narrative keeps coming up over and over is it's our story. It's compelling. It's satisfying. But we all live it and feels very familiar to us that, doesn't it? Oh, very much so,
Yeah. I mean, you think What I hear you when I hear you talking, I think of almost every major movie I've seen in the one that's coming to mind right now for me is The Lord of the Rings, and I'm thinking a lot about how that story plays out what you're describing. No, Obviously there's a lot of complexity and in intricacy to that begin, see that in Star Wars, you can see that in pretty much any great films, follows the structure and when we kind of, you know, for people right now who are going through incredible amounts off stress, anxiety overwhelm fear of the unknown confusion. I have found that when we can use the lens of the hero's journey to look at our lives, it can really help us think about Well, what story am I in? Because I think we have a choice to say, Well, what story do I want to be a part of? Don't want to be a part of the horror story, Or do I want to be part of maybe something a little bit more resourceful? I'm curious for your thoughts around that.
Yeah, to me, it's shifting from being a victim of circumstance, of being carried along by the stream. And once you become aware of this partnering with this creative activity in your life, you know, and that doesn't mean that I mean, someone's writing the story. You're writing this story whether you know it or not, you know the bends to pop up in your life. But if you're aware of that and that's what Joe's work did, it provides. You know, this little road map so you can kind of tell where you are in this story. You know, if you're in the wasteland, you get reassured that you do come out the other side, that you transcend the abyss eventually and then that sense of providing meaning there's even in your ordinary work life. There's a big difference between about I'm looking what I'm doing later today, the drudgery of more meetings and, you know, jumping through hoops, hitting deadlines and so on. And when I we imagine that it's slaying dragons, it changes that immeasurably. Ah, standard little brief tail that made a tremendous difference to me. Just t provide a little different lens into how that works. A medieval traveler coming to a town in the Middle Ages sees a man struggling uphill, carrying a heavy stone on his back. And he's obviously suffering and struggling and not happy. And the traveller says, Well, what are you doing, friend? And he says, You idiot, can't you see on carrying this stone up the hill? Yeah, And then he notices another person coming up the same go carrying the same burden. But he seems kind of like it heard it and relatively content, and he asked him what are you doing? And he says, I'm building a cathedral and just having that sense of the bigger picture that you're expanding to something more than just beyond your immediate concerns. You see where you fit into it. That helps. Remember,
I love that. And I, you know, in in your description of let's say, you can say, Well, I've got a ton of meetings this afternoon and maybe I don't wanna be in any of them. Or you can say, I'm slaying dragons or I'm working towards this greater cause. Um, there's a lot of playfulness who infused in that. I mean, there's a sort of way of creatively re imagining your life that certainly as adults, we are not accustomed to doing it all. Can you Steve, could you talk a little bit about where does playfulness fit into this?
Oh, my Well, myth really evolves out of play. Myth and ritual are intertwined, and they kind of a rise at the same moment. Um, you know, you are playing as if when you're going through a ritual. In fact, there's a, um G in Kerala in India. I hope I'm pronouncing it correctly. There's a little cult that the Children participate in. And this I get from Hinrich Zimmer, who was a mentor of Joseph Campbell's Ah, he describes us where the Children between about the ages of five and 13 14 15 on certain mornings of the year they will get together, get up before dawn, and it's called the Cult of Gambari. They'll create this little goddess out of mud, you know, kind of water, a little moat, and it's just very playful that feed her things. They'll give her things and the, you know, she has no I She has no math, so there's a sense, you know, that they connect with, well, we are giving this, you know, to you were the agents of Jim Bari here, and it helps prepare them later for the idea of yoga where you and the divine are both once. But it's a very playful thing, and the adults they know it's happened because they did. This is Children themselves, but they don't know where it's happening or exactly what the Children are doing it any point, and then you reach a point where you kind of age out. So this game continues over and over and it turns life itself into a game, and that's really what all ritual is. Joe would talk about how a ritual is participating in a ritual, is participating in a myth. You're stepping into it. It's that sense of playfulness. And so another person would point you to, um, I can't think of the offer author's name at the moment. But Homo movements man as a player. A scholar, German scholar. Ah, it points out that we're creatures that play all creatures play, but we've made a business out of it and then some. So the playfulness is important, and play itself is a term that has so many aspects to it because we think of playing. You go to a play, you see a performance with out of ritual, and then when you have, like you know, you're fitting parts together seems to have a little bit of play where they're not rigid, anti 80 other. So and even there just I'm playing with language just talking about this
and that playfulness that I hear you talking about, infusing that into your life through the rituals that we are all going through that were not necessarily calling them rituals were just saying, Well, that's my routine. That's just what I dio. But when we sort of think about it more in the sense of a ritual, I get up in the morning, I turn on the coffee machine. Uh, I had my first sip of coffee are, and then I sit down at my desk and I go to work. Infusing that sense of play into these rituals can both one give them a lot of meaning but also make them more fun?
Oh, tremendously again, it's that reframing, you know, looking at things differently. You're still the same person doing the same things. But it takes on a whole different aspect and then adds depth and dimension to it to on. And also, you know, we don't think it's a ritual. Just imagine what happens if the ritual goes awry, which has happened for so many of us in this, you know, which is why we're kind of in this wasteland setting. What we're rituals are gone, so we're creating rates.
I love that Steve. So what happens? Let's let's talk more about this year's journey, All right, So, collectively, in uncertain some ways individually, we've kind of left the ordinary world, right?
Okay. And we are sort of in this middle. Some people might call the dark night of the soul. We're sort of in this middle of reckoning with the challenges or crisis that are happening. Maybe we have found some guides or help along the way. What is life look like for us when we go back to the ordinary
world? Well, that's a darn good question, because we are still in the story. It's kind of like determining tend to the book before we get there. Part of it is trusting that it will be different and some people won't reach the other side. You know, we're losing people right now, So there are, you know, horrific aspects to it. To the hero's journey is not all fun and games come by off had some people crack up along the way. But as we work through this, I see just looking at us collectively from what emerges on the other side. There certain aspects that I think you're going to be very important, one of which is a total re imagination of the idea of work. Right now my wife is downstairs working from home. She has a county job that Ah, you know, they in the past, you know, 120 or so people in her little office. There's no way they considered anybody working at home. We don't have any way to track it. People are gonna watch TV all day. We can't control the situation now. The situation itself is the boss, and people are responding and stepping up, so there's tremendous flexibility. Most of her office now is working from home, and that's just one little segment of society. Other things. You know, what we conceive of. Let's take the very concept of capitalism itself, which you know often relies on. Well, you know, people are paid what they're worth, and you know that. That's why you know, these folks running these Fortune 500 companies were getting billions, you know, and other people working the fields or doing the waitressing on tables and so on your just. That's not quite what's important. What you have to offer isn't so so now. Everybody in the culture is so expendable they have to stay home except the people who doing those jobs, like stocking the shelves, selling groceries. You know, working in the hospital's changing catheters and so on people at the bottom end of the pay scale. So we have an opportunity, and I don't know, we'll follow up on this to re imagine that or you look at the planet in general. Everybody's meeting their carbon emissions go, whether they want or not right now. And I mean, it comes at this high cost of human life and human suffering. But it's almost as if and that word, as if is important. When you come to myth and ritual, it's as if you know, the planet said, Wait a minute, you know, maybe were the virus. So with China offline for a couple months, they haven't been stealing carbon into the atmosphere. Europe, the United States. Yeah, and in many ways, the environment is a lot happier now. Animals or in places where they have been there unimpeded, were not impacting our national parks. Yeah, and places that are very delicate. Now that doesn't mean we should all stay at home once this comes out. But as we emerged, there's the possibility collectively that we can build on this and a lot of people are doing that already there, working on it there, consciously trying to change the story in a
desert. Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Steve.
Oh, no, no, I I was just going to say the other aspect is individually and I can't tell you what you're going to learn or what you're going to lead in life. But I'm learning amazing things about myself that I had never expected. I'm also coming to know my cats very, very well.
You know, I I want to go back to something you said, because you we talk a lot about nature. And a lot of the very early myths are about nature is God right? And we have in our society in some ways not not all faiths or traditions of abandoned nature. But we have begun to think become to think we have mastery over nature. And what I think is so incredible about this experience is a reminder that Oh, no, you don't.
We definitely don't. Yeah, we are. You know, we come out of the planet. You may be familiar in the sixties with the guy. A hypothesis With which James Lovelock. What is that? The guy? A hypothesis? Look, James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis. I could be mispronouncing her name. I believe she was the first wife, Carl Sagan, a noted scientist in her own right. They and others put forth the idea that the earth itself is an organism, a living system, Uh, and so is called Guy A. Because guy is the ancient name of the goddess Earth, and that doesn't necessarily mean G. There's this personality and she's in control and and she's the divinity. But it's a way of reimagining it, looking at Earth as a whole system, you know, everything effects everything else. Everything is introduced attendant, and that's coming home to us now because as we mess with things, you know the climate change. Global warming makes possibilities of things like this. These viruses more likely as we encroach on the animal world, for example, and it also means we are not tending to the Earth. Other cultures, you know, if you go out hunting, you speak to the creature, you ask its permission. If you do something to the earth, you engage in a ritual to participate with her, and it doesn't necessarily mean you have this being up here in a patriarchal Islam, a Judeo Christian sand site. This is the way watch you therefore in it. But it means that we're honoring the world. Intending to it instead of treating it as an object is something to be consumed. We're partnering with it, and that is something that really comes through in most myths.
And that's really profound. When we just for everyone listening to think about that. How are we entering into partnership? Because with the Earth? Because I know, um, we have talked for I mean 50 years, 40 years about climate change. I mean, we've talked about it in different strains in different themes, and different people have come and gone. And we said, Yea, yeah, that's important business as usual or we can't come to an agreement on climate change or we're pulling out or whatever it may be. And it's interesting because we haven't taken into account in all of those agreements we've made in all those reductions in emissions and or not the role of the Earth in that happening, we've sort of that we can do it on our own. It's like, Well, hang on, this is This is a process that maybe co created
well we when you look at early myths, often the earth Not always, but often the Earth was conceptualized his female. You know, the sense of a mother because we grow out of her and she nurtures us. You know, where is the sun was often pictured is something that is male. Yeah, and that was just the means of imagining it. But the sun fruit devised the earth, if you will, without this son, nothing roses on. But that sense of female you eat, find it. If you go to, say, ancient detainee in mythology, the Mururoa Cady in world, the earth is a goddess. And then along comes Yeah, the You know, what we think of today is the Judeo Christian patriarchal myth. People coming in from the desert who were in kind of a hostile environment with the earth. The Earth was not their friend. They weren't in the river valleys where everything was flowing. So what was more important? You know, you're deities Were the things that were with you all the time. The wind, the sun, the stars and so on. And the earth was somewhat hostile and the sun was very masculine. So they bring that in. And you noticed that collision between two different world views. Have any Ah, and you know, even back Omar Duke, Uh, you know, a semetic God, the countians. He slays t Ahmad, his grandmother, who was this Samarian, goddess of the river valleys there who was the earth. And he forms from her the earth and everything that's in it. So you know that action starts happening. Where's previously Everything was born from the earth. And then you followed that over the next few centuries and you end up with the biblical mythology we have today where you don't even have TMR. Even though her knee appears in the Bible. You know God, his spirit in Genesis one moves over. The Deep T home comes from TM on. That same name is the goddess, but she's essentially had a is directed me She's been No Yeah, her personality is gone. She is just now something that exists. Her name also appears in you know, the second or third verse that the world is without form and void. Toho and Bo who So it's the same myth but has been turned around so that this patriarchal aspect is important and we noticed the separation starting then, of humankind being separate from nature. And that works its way through not to pick on one particular religion because it works its way through our science and Cartesian logic, which, you know is not exactly biblically based. But it's that sense that nature is separate in a part day card. Uh, who, You know, he believed that it was okay to experiment on animals because they don't really feel pain. They just sound and act like they're feeling pain. Now. My sense is very different. I'm mythologized everything. So I don't know about you. But when I was a child, I'd play with my favorite toys. But then I'd have to go to the toy box and get ones that I didn't like to play with so well, because I didn't want to hurt their feelings on. And I still do that. I have my favorite coffee cups, You know that I use most of the time during the week, but then, you know, a few times a month I have to go and get the ones in the back of the cupboard that, you know, was given to me by some relative that has a picture people in ugly sweaters on that I don't really like drinking out of per se, but I don't want to hurt the feelings of So I pretty much live in a Tom Robbins. No.
Okay, says Steve. This has just been absolutely fascinating. And one of the things I wanted us to talk about today is I mean, for anyone who's listening, they can tell you are just a fount of knowledge around myth and for folks go find, um, it's a Joseph Campbell Foundation on Facebook.
Ah, yes, the mythic Salone on Facebook. Wait, We are shifting. We are creating its kind. We're trying to repurpose a Facebook group for conversation, and it's difficult to have in depth conversations there because, you know, once comments go off the screen, something else comes up. So Christ are creating a new forum on our website, which will be debuting at the end of the month to, but it's a chance for people have profound discussions. Also, there's a Joseph Campbell page on Facebook where we put up material Ah, regularly from the fact
that this is if you guys are interested in math or you're curious That's a great next step to go learn from that community. And what I wanted to do was really talk to you about why are you so into this? And I know that many of us who know you have heard your story. But it is such a profound example of going through a hero's journey I would love if you could share with us. Steve, what the heck happened to you and why do you own 50 pieces of tight I?
Because they go with everything. Well, okay, I will do my best again. The Reader's Digest abridged version doesn't necessarily work here, but deep. The short version is that, you know, when I was in college, I imagine myself moving into the field of history when when I was young as early as junior high, I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I still love digging up dirt about people. But that's another story entirely. Ah, and then history seemed to make sense. I majored in that in college. I was moving in the interaction, but then I fell into the unintended life. You know, I took you know how people take a year off after college? Well, that should be about up and take a little time off. And I found myself first managing a Ah, A tent and awning company made fabric structures some very huge ones. So I did that for a while, Didn't exactly speak to my soul than my father died. And I took over his business, which was essentially selling grease and oil lubricants and so on to truckers, farmers and loggers up and down California's Central Valley, which again doesn't exactly speak to my
Yeah. Doesn't seem like, you
know, it doesn't, but it provided an income. However, I was in despair. I was depressed. What do you do when you're depressed? Well, you know, in the seventies and the eighties, what you do, uh, you know, little mirrors of white powder, razor blade, a strong, you know, briefly overcomes the compression. So, you know, I kind of flirted with that for a while. I had used cocaine, cocaine, abuse, me. I didn't tend to business. It's too well, my heart wasn't in it. Yeah, I ran the business into the ground and I wouldn't be enough once they did that. Once the money went away, the cocaine issue one away too, which is intriguing. Now. Now, looking back on it, I realize my sank He was trying to tell me something. I'm trying to get the message. This is not where you need, baby, but I wasn't getting the message. So then I developed intense health problems, something called Grave's disease, which is
that the business is closed and you're not doing coke anymore.
No, no, I'm not, uh, you know, they they want you to pay for the hat, which is sometimes an issue. And I did you know, I did have someone, but my funds were being spent on other things because I developed grave's disease, which is where your thyroid goes crazy. It's a hyper thyroid issue in your thyroid controls your metabolism. You know, it's dumping hormones and all sorts of substances in your system regulates everything. Respiration, your perspiration so on. So I developed this huge greater bug eyes. I lost ah, £100 in a matter of just a couple months and I knew something wasn't right. But, you know,
had you been to the doctor by that point? No.
At that point I had lost my might. My health insurance was gone when the business went away. I was living in a converted garage at the time. Ah, and you know, garage, apartment and part me. Eso something wasn't right. That condition continued for a couple of years, frankly, And during that time, you know, I stayed skinny. I was eating six meals a day, which is where my money was going. But symbolizing it instantly, I could No, I'd have a glass of water. I couldn't have more than this much in a glass of water because my hands would be shaking so much sometimes at night and be lying in bed at rest. My heart would suddenly increased over 200 beats a minute.
My could have
been a sign, but it also placed with your man fishing. And I had prior to this I'd run for Congress one state legislature a couple of times, but I ended up a mess. I just couldn't get myself together. Eventually, you know, your body goes into something called 35 words storm where every system goes into the red zone and you have 3 to 4 minutes to live. Unless you happen to be in an emergency room at the same time. And they know what you have, because otherwise they're going to assume you're having some sort of overdose.
Did this happen to you?
Not quite, but I did end up kind of collapsing on the shower floor. The people in the house in front of me gotten to the hospital, and I was diagnosed with graves disease, and at the time, the way Grave's disease was dealt with. Now it's a little bit different. There have been other experiences. We even had a president and his wife, George, and Barbara Bush, who had it, but they caught it very early in them. But generally there two ways to deal with that one is you yank the the thyroid out, you have surgery, you remove that, and then you're on 18 different hormones and prescription medications for the rest of your life. Which means I would have been imprisoned as a medically indigent adult in you know, what was the public option. At the time, I would have been stuck there. At the other option is a radiation. You kill as much of it as you can. You hope you've killed 90 95% of the thyroid, and what's left is still hyperactive but regulates your body close to normal. But you're still on a number of different hormones and medications. I him didn't opt for either one of those. Neither one sound palatable at the time. Plus, my pattern was taking the path of easy resistance. Hence the unintended life. I lived after college, so I had enough money to check into the ah best.
What did your doctor say to you at this point? Well, I'm not gonna do either of these.
No, I didn't say I'm not going to do either. I just you know, he leaves it up to me to decide which to do and when we do it. And I was one of many public charges, you might say at that point, I was an M I a a medically indigent adult. So it's not like I had a regular primary care physician or good health care at the time, which now that I have insurance and everything that goes with it, it's something I feel is very important that we need to extend to everybody because there are other lost souls like myself at the time. So I decided, OK, I'm going to die Sorry. I got a motel room for a few days across the street from the library. You know, nice motel room. You know, I have enough.
Did you really feel like that was the end?
They told me I had a couple weeks to a couple of months without intervention. Okay, so so, yeah, in that sense now, I had read Joseph Campbell it this point. No, but I I viewed it has a wonderful historical piece it provided for me. Made sense of the religious cult I grew up in, which is a whole other podcast. Yeah.
I don't think I've heard that story.
Yeah, you haven't. And we won't go there, but some of their offshoots just a couple days ago. We're expecting Jesus to return two nights ago, which he might have, but he'd be self quarantining for so we We don't know if he did. You
don't know if it really came
down, but that's it. So
you can see
I was a bit messed up anyway. And Joseph Campbell, help me make sense out of that religiously. But I didn't think that applied to my life. But when you think about it, here I am in despair on facing death. You can't get much more of a death Bree birth experience than this. So I thought I would just meditate. I had experience with sand. I thought I will understand that I'm going to die. Except I have Grave's disease. I can't sit still. I can't hold two thoughts in my head. I'm bouncing all over the place. And so I realize I need of meditation aid and you may be able to tell from the tight a shirt I'm not unfamiliar with things like, say, the Grateful Dead. And so I'm not that they hung out in Modesto count. Yeah, but I was close enough to the Bay Area that I could see them several times a year. So I had enjoyed my share of psychedelics on occasion. Thought that would be a good meditation aid. Where am I going to find that in Modesto? Walked out on the balcony and across the street under the portico of the library. You know this beautiful area there is this gentleman with beard long hair. Ah, long dark hair wearing a jester's hat.
That's your guy
and a hippie skirt and a peasant blouse. And he's kind of juggling. You know, those three sticks that people play with has got a guitar case that link. So I figured he's gonna be again. I was a little bit wrong about that, but I figured he must have a meditation AIDS. I run across the street, introduced myself to him. You gave him a sense of what I was looking for. He came back across the street to the motel room, Talk with me. I think he was a little nervous because I probably looked like someone morning to mess and myth. So, you know, it might be a police informant or something, but we chatted for a bit. Now he's wearing this big, beautiful, gorgeous hippie skirt. And his name is Coyote Frank. When he wears the skirt when he's not wearing a skirt pants, it's Coyote Fred. So Okay, I I'm looking for a magic elixir guy wearing a jester's hat. Name Coyote. I'm not getting. I mean, Campbell talks about how this stuff isn't necessarily literal, but it can't be much more literal for right, seriously, but I'm still not getting it, so he goes away. He comes back with a sheet of 100 tabs about Les De and I figured, Well, I'll take a mega dose. I'll take two or three hits of that. And I have friends who were going to like that. Enjoy that. So that's fine. You know, I turns out he's a member of something called the Rainbow Family, which I had heard of for years on The Grateful Dead seem that kind of hung out around the periphery. They were people who created this mindless, magical hippie Brigadoon a different Alpine forest every summer where everything was free and people were bed and then they would disappear and move on somewhere else. So he's the first member of the Rainbow Family. I will. That is cool. So he gave me the 100 tabs of acid I money. It was surprisingly cheap when you
took all you bought 100 10. I've got a
100 hits, but I was just going to take a few. And then, you know, I had plenty of hippie friends. Plenty dead could enjoy that. Yeah, exactly why not? So I took a couple hits while he was there, and he asked if he could use my shower, which makes sense now that I'm familiar with the Rainbow family because you're living on the road, you're camping out a lot. In fact, he had turned out I had heard of him. He and his family were camped out by the river in town, Dry Creek on the edge of the Gallo Winery property. Gallo is the big people in most
people. Know Galloway. Yeah,
absolutely on. And so he's camped out in that no man's land. And Gallo had been trying to get he and his family out of there for a couple years and they'd sent the sheriff out and he would stand on his First Amendment rights and point out, you know, this was a no man's land. And so in several court battles, he had defeated them. So it turned out I had read about him out.
Wow, How a little
bit? Yes, very much so. Uh, anyhow, so he uses our shower cause he's camping out all the time. He comes out, He went in looking like Charlie Manson came out looking about 30 years younger. Big because of all that, while he was in the shower. You know, I had eaten a couple of hits and normally honesty or any psychedelic mushrooms, Whatever Kot to take a little while to work. You have a lag time of maybe 45 minutes to an hour where you know you're thinking G, is this going to work? I don't know if it is, but the way I metabolize things right, remember? Yeah, I was. Oh, no. Six meals a day. And in fact, where I knew something was wrong with him deviating for just a moment, barmy that something wasn't right was one day when I stopped at the pizza parlor. I'd had a huge roundtable pizza and a pitcher of soda and read the Sunday San Francisco Koran examiner. And normally occasionally I would do that. I'd have a few slices pizza, bag it up, take it home and have something to munch on here and there. Snack on. But I ate the entire extra large pizza, and then I got up and I walked home. I still had a home at that time, you know, six blocks. I deviated two blocks out of my way. Stop it. Jack and Box had a ah ultimate cheeseburger, jumbo fries, strawberry shake and an apple turnover with out visiting the facilities in the meantime, so I knew something wasn't right about that. This stuff just disappeared. Yeah, very quickly. So, anyhow, I eat a couple hits of acid. They start coming on immediately while he's in the shower. So I think, Wow, this is incredible. And I am going to die, so I maybe I'll have 10 minutes or something. So I reached down to pull some more out, and instead I stuffed the in my hand, had a different any depth stuff, the entire sheet, all 100 hits, which seem to me pretty good. Probably enough to turn on a couple 100 people into my mouth. So my that swallowed it. He came out, he left, went away. And, yeah, when you start a trip, it really is a death and rebirth experience. Because your ego is dying. You kind of go away. There's consciousness there, but the process of that dissolving a veto can be very painful at times. And I was feeling incredible anxiety. I was looking at the television set in the motel room. Thinking is the TV on? Isn't it on? I couldn't tell. And so I focused on that G, If the TV is on Maybe it's on really lab. It's on really lab made. It's disturbing the neighbors, and they're gonna call the management that they'll be knocking on the door any moment. And oh my God. So I need to turn the TV off. But what if the TV is often? I asked, Only turn it on, and I turned around really laugh, ever etcetera. So I was caught in this endless loop and then on the door, I hear no peek out the little fish eye lens through the door, and there's try ot Frank. He'd left his beret, so he came back to fashion. So I opened the door. He came in and I thought, This is someone who will know if the TV's on or not. So I kind of motion towards the TV and he gave me an odd look. Like this guy has the psychedelics know in the world. And he wants to watch soap operas middle of the afternoon. Sure. So he went over, looked at it. It was something new. Family digital turnaround told me. Sorry, dude, I don't know how to turn it on, which I think he probably did, but he knew that wasn't what I needed the time. So he left. But that really that anxiety. So that went away. He left and then the I tripped for three days. For the next 12 hours, I just dissolved. I was on the bad half, Ma breathing in and out, in and out And just, you know, all this incredible multiple consciousness, if you will, of this consciousness of everything. And I don't want to presume you've had psychedelic experience. But one thing that it does is remove your mind's ability to discriminate and say, Okay, this what? Your hair and now is more important than that over here. So, you know, you could hear if you're outside sitting on your porch, you could hear a child and this week of their tricycle three blocks away and be aware of the be, you know, a block and 1/2 away pollinating the flower there. And you're just aware of all of these things at once? Well, on 100 is it really expanded? The mind magnified. Yeah. Rahm does Timothy Leary level and Dennis, you know the closest I've come to being Jerry Garcia other than inheriting
all the tight I
There you go Yeah, I've got to physique not the talent, but anyhow, So I'm there on the bed dissolving, and eventually I come back to the point, You know, the next day where you can open up a book and look at it without all the letter sliding off onto the floor so I can actually read. And the buff I brought with me that I looked at was hero with 1000 faces. So I spent the next two days going through that and realizing, you know, in the process of it, Wow, this really is related to my life. And I could tell why Waas in the story I was deeply mired in the wasteland. So as I emerged from that, you know, the boon I brought back If Boone it iss You know, I once I was kind of in my senses. I knew I have this disease it could tell me in a few days. In a few weeks, I don't know exactly when, but in the time that I have left, I'm going to do my best to follow my bliss, which is Amanda associated with Campbell, which isn't know something. He'd misty, like eating 100 hits of Alice T. But is more about knowing yourself, finding what your passion is, which I had given up when I graduated from college and started following the unintended life. So that's essentially what I did. It took a couple months to realize all my symptoms had disappeared. Which kids don't try this at home of the grains disease, which is what let me know. Did G. This was something my psyche know myself was doing. I was in an unhappy place and I developed this illness. As a result of that. We don't know exactly what causes that we know that more females than males have it. Uh, people who are change smokers are more likely to get it. I wasn't a chain smoker, but you know, if you train smoke, your body's under stress and you're dealing with a lot of stress in your life. And I had a lot of stress going on, but all of that dissolved and I wouldn't recommend this today, you know, as a cure for it. This is more off label than hydroxy quiet nighter, anything like that. But it worked for me. It was definitely a death. Every birth experience it was the hero's journey. So from that point on, I spent the next few years in fact, the better part of a decade. The tanking around the United States, thumbing my way to a lot of college towns. You know, when you're young, relatively slender, have long hair and lots of tight. I you're going to fit in better on a college campus, and I would go there, read my way through libraries, find a bohemian community to hang out in visit Ashrams, you know, have a sense of myself. You know, I would come back to Modesto, usually around the winter time, because trying King traveling on the road when there's a blizzard is not suffer the a lot of fun, you know, although even there, you know, you could be in the middle of the Mojave and people who would not pick you up anywhere else because you might be Charlie Manson. They'll stop and pick you up in the Mojave because your GP Charlie Manson. But you're gonna die if you will. So that was an incredible experience. I would sell flowers diode on Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day earned a little money. I was not on any public funding at that point. And, you know, I kept coming back to town, realized I had a B A I I couldn't substitute teach so often during the winter I started doing that. Uh, my wife is an old friend I've known from years before we connected. And so I started subbing more and more and eventually started teaching. Junior, I know I was following my bliss and found literature in English is really what fed me stories and ensuring that with students, junior High is an amazing age, By the way, speaking of initiations, Ah, lot of people have trouble doing that. I was very good at it. And to teach them story, you also have to teach them the tools that go with it, the parts of speech and what is metaphor, what assembly and so on. So English became part of that. They did that for a number of years. After 9 11 I dropped out of teaching because teachers were becoming the bad guy and we moved into broke learning and lots of standardized test which no one is doing right now. And that's actually a good thing. Teachers are being more creative and I started participating in a lot of online groups, doing a lot of writing about Joseph Campbell. When I dropped out of teaching, my idea was to start writing. And then Robert Walter of the Joseph Campbell Foundation stumbled across me. And, you know, I had become a co owner of the Joseph Campbell Mythological Group on Yahoo. So the Joseph Campbell Foundation noticed once we became editors Pecan Yaqoob, g r. These people writing Joe's CI Noor Are they on his coattails? Or we're going to have to shut them down. Are they doing? You know bad things to his memory and so on. So Bob started reading when I was writing and then, uh, started paying me money monthly to write essays for Joseph Campbell Foundation and then a kind of more from there into a Colin. So for me, the hero's journey is it's not just something abstract. It provides meaning to my life. It is the story of my life and your life and everybody else's. Maybe some other time we can talk about, uh, something that I find is important to the hero's journey. People think it's a male thing. It's not just a nail thing women experience it to Joe wasn't is he pointed out himself when he would be asked about that. You know, in the early days of the forties and fifties, he was part of his culture. So, you know, he thought, Well, women, the kind of the goal of the journey, but over time to realize the world was changing. And it's up to women to tell us what the hero's journey is for us. You know, the basic arc is very similar, but it takes a completely different form, and I can't be a former women just model themselves after men. So that's something that's exciting.
Oh, Stevie, I will bring you back for that. That was Thank you so much for joining us on, Brave by design, that was absolutely fascinating. And, you know, for those listening again, you don't have to do 100 tabs of acid to have your own death and rebirth scenario. But, um, it is for those of us who feel like we are going through something that is insurmountable and, ah, that we just can't figure our way forward. You surrendered? Yes. And I think that surrendering process surrendering to what's happening. Not trying to control it anymore is a beautiful theme that we can all sort of think about. Of how How can we surrender to what's happening and just allow it to wash over us?
Very true. Very much so. Thank
you so much for having me. This has been funds, Assad. I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date. And I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode, please leave a review and comment on apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on Lincoln, and I'm also on instagram at force of bad assets. All that information will be available in the show notes until next time. Stay brave.