Wisdom Has No Map.
Joseph Campbell’s teaching opened me up to the value of myth as a means of understanding basic truths and sacred realities. Michael Meade may be the most revered mythologist on the planet today, and his “Living Myth” is one of my top three “listen down by the beach” podcasts that I enjoy.
In this particular episode, he uses our uncertain world in 2020 as the landscape to tell an ancient Chinese story that helped me to see that you shouldn’t prejudge a crisis as negative, as you don’t know what it will lead to.
He also reminded me that this is the year of the metal rat in the Chinese zodiac. While those of us in the west don’t particularly love rats, they’re beloved in ancient Chinese spiritual culture as they are wily, witty, and tend to get what they want. My birth year, 1960, was the last time we came face-to-face with the metal rat. These rats tend to be reliable and live a stable life (not sure if 2020 fits that profile). They hold the unique power to turn unlucky events into good fortune (let’s hope that's how we feel at the end of this Chinese year, February 12, 2021).
As my long-time meditation teacher, the late Salliji, often said, “The rat is considered a symbol of wisdom, wealth and prosperity.”
What if you were to write a myth or parable describing your experience of 2020, illuminating the wisdom, meaning, or learning from this unprecedented year? Start it with the line “Once upon a time” and write about yourself in the third person.
Here’s a parable I wrote earlier this year that we’ve now made into a coloring book at MEA. Don’t judge yourself. Have fun in creating an epic story that helps you see where the breadcrumbs are leading.
And, maybe you could even create a little ritual around your story? If you imagine yourself to create a restaurant in the post-COVID world (you courageous rebel!), maybe you make a meal for friends every Sunday night and call it Sunday Soul Supper. Or, if you know you want to live in Portugal sometime in the next five years, maybe you spend an hour each weekend listening to Portuguese music and reading about the country. Myths and rituals are a powerful combination.