Whose Myth are You Living?

“Myth: A popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society.”

How many times have you heard someone or yourself use the dreaded C word? It’s a vile word that demoralizes. It can also rob people of their lives. Yes, “can’t” is a horrid, despicable part of anyone’s vocabulary.

Society has its many pluses, but it is an ordered organism. Boxes and labels provide more comfort. When we meet people socially, one of the most commonly asked questions is “What do you do [for a living]?” Once we know that our minds quickly form assumptions and expectations.  If I tell someone I work in hospice, the typical first response is: “You people are angels.” When they hear I’m a chaplain, all of a sudden they’re reviewing what they’ve told me so far in case they need to apologize for any inappropriate vocabulary that might be offensive to a respectable man of the cloth. Heaven forbid I let it slip that I’m a Zen monk. The silence becomes even more stifling.

“I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

The above quote is attributed to Thomas Edison. Kurt Vonnegut, an internationally acclaimed writer, had boxes of rejection letters stating he had no talent and should give up writing. I have had hundreds of patients who on their deathbed reviewed with me how much power the C word had over their lives and how it left them with so many regrets, having raped their dreams.

Then there is the myth the dreamers create, that anything is possible. “You can’t fly because you think you can’t.” Between Twitter, Facebook, and infomercials, there are hundreds of people trying to convince us all that we can earn obscene amounts of money, retire in our 20s, beat cancer by consuming a certain proprietary blend of herbs.

Inevitably, when our feet are beginning to leave the ground, someone feels it’s their responsibility to ground us, to be the voice of reason. Oh sure, most often it’s out of genuine care. At least we tend to hope so.“Honey, how will you make a living as an artist?” “Do you really want to waste all that time and money in college to be a teacher when you could enjoy a much better lifestyle as an engineer?”

Quitting your job, your “normal” life to travel the world? Take your children around the globe, are you mad? Don’t you know how unsafe some of those places are? How can you possibly afford all that travel? I wish I was brave enough. In this economy?—These myths are just as powerful to the people who subscribe to them as Zeus was to the ancient Greeks. And I’m not saying one person’s myth is more correct or true than another’s. That’s the beauty of myths, you get to decide which ones you give power.

So what do you do? Do you forge your own path when the briars begin to sprout and block your way, or do you turn around and head back to what you know? Whose myth are you living?

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  1. <3 LOVE <3 LOVE <3 LOVE <3  Awesome!! Thank you for sharing this! 

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  2. Fantastic. Eloquent. Inspiring. I’m uplifted and encouraged. I hear some of those same things when we tell people what we envision and are striving for. There have been a few “awesome”s and a couple of “how cool”s, but not many. It’s fascinating to me how many people are so quick to criticize a lifestyle that is not made from a cookie cutter, fitting neatly into society.

    We don’t want our lives to be cookie-cutter…or resemble anything like that. We want our life to be filled with adventure and wonder, extraordinary, even if it’s only that way to us.

    I couldn’t agree more with your article, and I commend you for having the courage to, despite the negativity, take your son and give him a real life education. Bravo!

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    • I love that cookie cutter comment! No cookie cutters! Luckily I haven’t had
      any naysayers. I know others who have had that experience & it’s sad to me.

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  3. Our internal dialog is sometimes echoed by those around us; once I became aware of the destructive nature of my internal dialog, I saw the lies and the truth.
    I agree with you, our thinking has so much power. We can choose to live in truth and possibility or not.

    I’m excited to read about your possibility as you journey around the world!

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    • Thank you! That internal dialogue can be our best friend or worst enemy. How great you saw what it was for you.

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  4. im living the myth of believing that i can do anything i want… it may be true or not but ive chosen to believe in it 🙂 love this post

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    • That’s the only way to live in my opinion. 🙂

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  5. I suppose I don’t really need to post anything here – you know my thoughts on this topic oh-so-well!. But here goes…

    You are right now. CAN’T is really an excuse. There are a million reasons NOT to do something, but all you really need is one good reason TO do it. Was it easy for us to give up our safe, secure, conventional lives in order to live life on the road?? Are you kidding??

    Making the decision to travel as a family on our bicycles was – by far – the hardest decision we ever made. We agonized over it, we analyzed every facet of it. But in the end, we decided to go for it – because we CAN.

    I sincerely hope that you manage to convince a few others other there that they, too, CAN live their dreams!


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  6. This is an AWESOME post! Just like many other people said, I could really relate to it. Very motivational. Thanks!

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    • Thanks! Glad you could relate to and connect with it.

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  7. Brings me to consider the word “might” … similar in that it holds many people back from simply making a decision. It allows us to wallow and not commit one way or the other.

    In the end there is no “might” about it … you either WILL or WILL NOT.
    There is no shame in picking one or the other just make the decision and move on.

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    • Yes, might is extremely noncommittal. I love Yoda’s quote from the Star Wars trilogy: Do or do not, there is no try.

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  8. Oh my gosh….this could very well be one of the best and most powerful posts I’ve ever read. You really speak to me when you write and thanks for what you included here with these words. You are a leader, my friend….and you’re taking us in the right direction.


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    • Wow! That’s some serious praise! Thanks so much!

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  9. What a great post! I am about to share it with the people in my world in every way possible! The ‘c’ word definitely needs an overhaul in many peoples lives. Thanks for inspiring and motivating 🙂

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    • So glad you enjoyed it and it resonated with you!

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  10. This is where my path begins. Today. My last day of work.

    I can dedicate myself full time to doing what I want, what I love, and turning that into an income. The words “what if” and “can’t” are no longer in my vocabulary.

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    • Awesome! Glad you’ve eradicated those words from your vocab.

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  11. mine! mine! this year i’m living mine! i was meant to read this this week. thank you so much for writing it. i’m going through huge changes right now and scaring many of my loved ones with my most “radical” plans ever. i can see the fear on their faces as i no longer have my “grounding force” in my life and i’ve been hearing lots of concerned warnings. i’ll be keeping this close at hand as a great reminder 🙂

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    • Awesome! I’m so glad it was timely for you. Love when synchronicity visits. 🙂

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  12. I think it is so important for everyone to periodically review their life and discover what is making them happy. So many of us go through life in a trace, dancing to someone else’s tune.

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    • So true. Or unaware how much things could change simply by switching to a new tune.

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