Tuna Sandwiches, Tattoos and the Dreaded Stork

I remember it well, learning that I would soon be having a daughter. I was making a tuna sandwich at a restaurant I had been working for. It was a slow day at the office and I was afforded the luxury of playing on my phone while watching the buttered bread slowly turn brown on the grill. The text message read: “Guess what, daddy?”

Not much guessing was required.

It was a shock… well, not too much of a shock. I know how these things work. But it was enough that I went outside and sat on a box around the back of the restaurant for a while until my coworker—a heavyset fellow covered in tattoos—came out and asked me in his thick New Jersey accent, “Well, what are you going to do?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

Funny how society changes, isn’t it? 100 years ago, that probably wouldn’t have even been a question. But, for better or worse, parents have “choices” these days. Ah… perhaps that’s a discussion for another time.

I knew nothing of THEE at the time, but looking back, the next several months fit quite nicely into the Creativity in Endeavors framework.

But back to the story…

So, having babies is about as unremarkable a human activity as anything, but it’s major, right!? It was a big deal for me. I had my moments of crippling dread and anxiety, which I dealt with by watching a lot of TV for some reason.

For the most part, though, I was positive about it. I remember my girlfriend (now wife) and I getting each other excited about names. We’d get all down on how much it would cost, lamenting the demise of our social lives or dreading the idea of a crying little creature occupying our early mornings. Then we’d snap out of it, playfully arguing about what we would name the baby or getting excited because we found a tiny little shirt with The Beatles logo on it or something.

It was, and continues to be, a major challenge, and I made myself rise to it. Looking back, I realize how I just fully committed to the whole endeavor at some point, just barreled into it like a freight train. Now, I’ve got a little four year-old and being somehow not completely entangled in this whole parenting thing is unimaginable.

Now, this wasn’t the first time I had successfully risen to a challenge. Beforehand, I had built myself a semi-solid little music career out of sheer willpower and, well, I guess the ability to play music. But that was somehow different and probably just the byproduct of the drive to be creative. On the other hand, being half-hearted about other things, namely college, caused me to waste a lot of time and money and resulted in 5 years of education resulting in a two-year associates degree.

The best part of all of this: Our little family got on a roll. Something clicked. We realized, without the formal names that THEE attributes to these phenomena, that we had a way of approaching our endeavors that works for us. (It may not work for you except in a broad sense. Creativity is personal. Such is the nature of human endeavor.) These days, rather than having some giant challenge dropped in our laps, we come up with them on our own—and apply what we know about ourselves to make them happen. We bought a house, got better jobs, traveled extensively, continued our education and now, we’re planning to move back to my wife’s homeland. Why? We like a challenge. And really, nothing seems too daunting when you’ve got a good attitude and your sphere of what is and what is not realistic expands.

This part of the Taxonomy is difficult to write about at times. On one hand, telling people they need to be positive about the challenges in their lives is either a no-brainer or might come off as patronizing. On the other hand, it’s the most basic, useful, instantly applicable framework for you, right now, whatever you’re doing.

Furthermore, the language in the Creativity frameworks allows me to explain psychosocial reality and “human elements” to people who want to know. Would you agree that being positive is helpful when faced with a challenge? If so, then you must acknowledge that “positivity” exists and humans use it. But you can’t touch it… but it’s real… so it must exist somewhere outside of the physical world?

Why yes, it exists in psychosocial reality, it’s a human element, and THEE has a place for it with all of the other human elements.

Tune in next week and I’ll apply this framework to something much larger than me and my family life. I think you’ll like it.

The Multi-Directional Social Movement

The city held its breath, eerily quiet despite the sound of bullhorns, drums and hundreds of feet slapping against the concrete, all reverberating off the sides of tall bank buildings. These buildings housed “the enemy,” who no doubt looked down upon this island of bodies, making its way like a centipede through the narrow maze of streets with wonder and amusement.

In the crowd, faces not covered by black handkerchiefs or Guy Fawkes masks flashed passion and anger. They hoisted their signs with gusto and began chanting, “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!”

Who are these people? Why are they willing to brave the looks of derision, fear and scorn? What drives them to take time out of their lives to try and change things far larger than themselves?

These are society’s fire starters. They are every bit as important to the overall good as the politicians, the entrepreneurs, the academics and the workers. THEE calls them cause-centered, and describes them as follows:

“Striving for some genuinely held greater good can be experienced as intrinsically beneficial, and such people build their social life accordingly. Their motto: Fight the good fight!” 

I wrote about my experiences with the Occupy movement in a previous blog. Over a year later, it seems to have largely fizzled. No more marches, no more mention in the press, but I would dispute that the message disappeared, rather it migrated to Facebook memes and classroom discussions, policy prescriptions and punditry. Really, it’s everywhere you look and it’s part of a giant rift in American society.

In a way, that’s fantastic! Nothing ever changes if everybody sits around and waits for someone else to do something—and America certainly has problems.

Now, I’m convinced—partially as a result of my research in THEE—that the best solution to many of our social problems, from poverty to inequality to crime to war and conflict, is hitching a ride on the road to prosperity. And much of that depends on entrepreneurs—or market-centered individuals. You know, the folks willing to try out new things and come up with new ideas and innovations because, well, they want to make a bunch of money. But these are the bad guys now!

Of course, it’s not the banksters (as they’re now known) or the corporate lackeys that I’m speaking of, but the regular enterprising people willing to front a risk and take responsibility for their own lot in life. They want to make money in a particular way: by responding to what others value and currently cannot get or can’t get at a proper quality or decent price or both. In a free enterprise culture, such people prize trust and reputation highly. Sleazy dealings are an anathema.

I can’t imagine a march to the Capitol Building steps to protest over-regulation, or the lack of individual responsibility, to promote free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s unthinkable! It’s so far removed from the current reality that the very thought of it seems absurd.

I could be wrong, of course. I’ve heard tell of a group of bloggers in the SF Bay area who seem to be promoting this particular cause, but if I am to call it as I see it, their influence pales in comparison to the movement to send us barreling toward bigger government, more bureaucratic control and subsequently, less individual responsibility/autonomy. We really need more cause-centered people to get after this issue if we’re to move toward prosperity.

Interestingly, (and this showcases some of the predictive powers of THEE), the social democracy movement is gaining steam as we stand on the precipice of two major shifts in society. The first, from Plutocratic Pluralism to Conventionalism, will come after a crash caused by, among other things, putting too much trust in the government’s ability to engineer society. The second, the 21st Century Enlightenment, will probably creep up on us, be much less stressful, and promote the virtues of responsibility, being authentic to oneself, and respecting a new kind of diversity. It certainly points to a powerful combination lurking on our horizon.

Grasping this stuff is systems thinking on a grand scale, and probably beyond me. I’ll leave it to you to click the links and put it together for yourself. But I do get an inkling at times as to the possible timeline of events. Government in the last 15 years or so seems to be taking more and more liberties, if its not Obama’s incredible number of executive orders, it’s the European Union’s encroachment on distinct political territories.

I’m sure I’m not the only one watching how society develops with increasing alarm, but I do feel fortunate that I have a much better chance at understanding it—and what’s to come—thanks to THEE. And I look forward to the day when the next sign-waving crowd to snake through my city asks that we put our destiny back in the hands of the people.

The Sky’s the Limit

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” –Oscar Wilde 

It seems a bit pessimistic, doesn’t it? As if we are all a fraud somehow, deriving all that we are from someone else in an attempt to be more or better than we are in reality.

Could it be true? Mr. Wilde does have a reputation as a keen observer of humanity. As it turns out—yes, but probably not in the way Oscar meant it.

Work in the Taxonomy has revealed something called “Model Beings.”

These “beings” embody the perfect and complete form of what we, ourselves, are. They exist in our imagination’s ivory towers and we hold ourselves up against them to see where we stand in relation to perfection.

This idea is not at all new. Plato advocated the same thing with his forms, but rather than imagining perfect beings, he imagined perfect values. Nietzsche constructed a model being around power and domination with his Superman. And Jung’s archetypes are similar in that they are imagined entities representing parts of ourselves.

The difference is that the 7 model beings discovered in THEE represent the perfect version of each of the 7 Primal Quests. (For a blog about the quests, see here how The Beatles’ George Harrison manifested quite a few of them.) Suffice it to say, we’re all on a quest or two, from which we derive the purposes of our respective lives.

But in doing so, something must exist to guide us on our quest. That’s where Model Beings come in. And, as divinity is a part of the human imagination, this is the part of the Taxonomy where divinity shows up. It can seem a bit “out there.” Believe me, I get it. Purpose of Life? Divinity? Perfection? Even WK, THEE’s creator and foremost researcher, has expressed certain reservations, shall we say, about getting into things like divinity. It can be a contentious topic.

I tend to try and explain things I learn in THEE to my wife—she’s mildly interested, plus it helps me to get a fix on what I don’t understand. Consider this conversation:

Me: “Think about the creative quest, right? What’s the ultimate creator?”

Her: “An artist?”

Me: “No, not just art, creation of everything. You know, a creator.” (I’m laying it on pretty thick at this point.)

Her: (Getting slightly impatient.) I don’t know. What?

Me: “God. God created everything, God’s the ultimate creator? You know, ‘Let there be light' and all that.”

Her: (skeptical) “What?”

Me: “No, no it’s not that God necessarily exists out there in space or something, it’s that people on a creative quest see the ‘ultimate creator’ as a model being. It’s just to, like, compare yourself.”

Her: “And you’re on a creative quest, then.”

Me: “I think so, yes.”

Her: “So, you compare yourself to God?”

Me: (Trapped) “Oh dear.” Her: “I knew it!”

 The model being for those on a Salvation Quest is similarly fantastic. The classic example (at least in my culture) is Jesus:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. –John 3:17

What better model for someone on a Salvation Quest—someone who’s sense of purpose comes from helping others, saving others—than Jesus Christ? In this case, the Model Being is labeled “World Saviors.”

There are 5 more Model Beings. Not all of them quite so divine, shall we say, but some of them even more so. For those of us on a Pleasure Quest or a Meaning Quest, we don’t have to look far for our Model Beings. They could be a celebrity or within our self. It is simply us… just better, which is perfect considering the framework within which these Model Beings can be found is called Your Better Self.

These figures, these Model Beings, have always existed via mankind. They are presented in mythic tales, stories around the campfire, moral platitudes, bedtime stories, films, literature, academia, thoughts, actions—everywhere you look. The rub is that they are different for everyone. Each individual has their own, nuanced take—which might explain the contention between religious groups, sects and denominations, even within the major religions.

 Clearly, this begs the question: What is your model being?