The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life

On Not Making a Movement

I’ve been remiss in some of my duties as a rogue priest.

Something to remember about being a rogue is that it is not a desirable position. There’s a certain romantic charm to the word now—we think of Han Solo and we smile. But to be a rogue means to be alone, even to be a loner; to not belong, to have nowhere to call home.

I am very much a rogue priest. I no longer have a spiritual teacher on earth, and my temple is closed. I have a patron deity above me, and a few loyal students who follow my teachings. But my job as a priest does not lie in temples and holiday festivals. It calls to me from somewhere out in the field, somewhere on the road. That is where I have a chance to make my destiny.

It was this calling that led me to start Rogue Priest and begin writing about the Heroic Life. The Heroic Life sums up everything I hope is true: that the best life is one fully lived, that relentless self-development is the surest altruism, that travel and adventure are mighty spiritual practices.

I can get behind that.

If my purpose in being a loner is to test those ideas, I accept.

Then recently, in the last few months I began talking about the idea of making a movement. The idea isn’t new to me. I’m sure there are others who love a life of travel and adventure just as much as I do. Coming together in some way sounds wonderful.

But to start talking about it like I can launch it tomorrow—or like it is anything I, on my own, can launch—is overreaching.

At present I have only the clunkiest outline of what the Heroic Life is. It is an outline hard won through hands-on experience, successes and mistakes, and amazing conversations with many of you. It’s good as far as it goes, but that’s the operative bit. It’s a work in progress.

Trying to recruit an air corps, or even imagine what that is, should generally wait until after the Wright Brothers are in the sky.

And that, ultimately, is one of the hardest but most important things for me to admit. It’s easy for me to say, cheerfully, repeatedly, that I’m not a hero—I’m not. It’s a bit tougher to remind myself I’m on the drawing board stage. I don’t even yet know what the Heroic Life looks like. I’m not a graduate, let alone a professor.

This post is not about pride or self-value. It’s about building the best damn philosophy possible. I believe that happens through practice, not theory. And I have only begun to live the lifestyle that I envision as the Heroic Life. Every day I learn new lessons I never expected. If there was a curriculum, I’d be on Chapter 1.

So, I’m going to chill on the talk about making a movement. If that happens someday, it must be organic. I will meet others along the way who become companions on this journey. Perhaps we will have something worth saying. Perhaps we’ll know how to do this sustainably, purposefully, successfully, not by the seat of one’s priestly pants. If that kind of fellowship arises, it deserves to make its mark on the world.

But that’s not where I’m at. I’m a journeyman priest of a forgotten god. I am learning some things. I am trying not to die. When I finish the Great Adventure, then I might have something to say about movements.

The next few posts will bring this Adventure into a whole new focus. I hope you’ll stick around.

If this post is interesting, please be a good internet friend and share or tweet it.

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13 thoughts on “On Not Making a Movement

    • Megan! So happy to see you here. Thank you. I think that is probably true… I do believe in the pursuit of knowledge, but I think the greatest knowledge is emergent. It can never be fully achieved. Or perhaps, only at the end.

  1. “that the best life is one fully lived, that relentless self-development is the surest altruism”

    I think this is an interesting statement (and makes me think of Captain Jean-Luc Picard!) because I am involved with a Compassion Practice group where we talk about acceptence etc. I think a lot of times self-development is not pursued for healthy reasons. It is pursued because people don’t like themselves, want to measure up to their neighbour and desire quick fixes (and end up buying a lot of crap!). But you have amended that with altrusim, and when pursued in that sense and because there is a love for a life well-lived then it becomes more of an internal pursuit than one purely for an ego boost. I guess the negative form of self-development is the one that capitalism has latched on to. This is not coming out right–it sounded much better in my head!

    Recognizing that what you are trying to do is a work in progress is essential, I think, and it may always be a work in progress. Your philosophy (at least from what I understand) as a dynamic quality to it more so than static. It is the nature of being a rogue/loner. The status quo (and those who see things as black and white) seem to be the only ones who feel confident enough to proclaim any kind of assurance.

    Since you seem like the kind of person who is always open to learning new things, I think it’s doubtfull that you will ever come to some firm conclusion about what “it” is and it will always be evolving (emergent). I don’t come here expecting to find a set of clear rules to follow for the Heoric Life and I appreciate your honesty:) And that’s why I read your blog, so I look forward to your next posts on the Adventure!

    • Grace, I think it came out pretty well! What you say about self-development is an interesting point. There are so many personal development blogs out there that mock or try to break free from the corporate world and consumerism. It’s easy to forget that most of that world is based on a desire for personal development too. A better job, a happier life… a misguided way of getting them perhaps, but the same basic motive. Do you think some people truly are happy with that “ego boost” style of self-advancement or do you think there is something better about doing it selflessly?

      • It might help to explain how I got a somewhat negative opinion toward the concept of self-development.

        I used to work for a corporate motivational speaker, and he certainly helped a lot of people, but I always felt like the essence of his message was that success equaled more money, bigger house, fancy cars etc. He got rich by telling others how to get rich and appealing to those kind of desires. And the goal of self-development was that kind of success and those who didn’t go after it were failures or lazy.

        Some people probably do find some kind of happiness with that kind of ego-boost, but it is conditional and therefore can be taken away or you end up always needing more (his girlfriend told us she wanted a private jet! He was rich, but not that rich! She is a super sweet and kind person though).

        But there are plenty of unhappy selfless people, too! Perhaps the focus on “happiness” is the issue. I don’t know, everybody is different. I think to, some times, that what people are striving for is not want they truely want (not based on self-reflection) but based on what society deems worthy and often that is based on being a bigger consumer (obviously I am not a captialist!).

        If your self-development is based on carving out the kind of life you truely want and is in line with your values, I think that is wonderful–not everyone has the courage to do that. Personally, I tend to be of the selfless type without thinking about what I want, so I am trying to find my balance between the two. I don’t exist just to make someone else’s life easier. My friend pointed out to me that by thinking that someone couldn’t “survive” without me is actually my ego talking. And she is right. My plants might die though:(

        This is much longer than I intended! I hope that made sense and answered your question.

  2. You’re not really starting a movement per say, but you are *moving* — running around, gaining ground, collecting experiences, gathering data — that kind of movement is what eventually starts a movement. One person moves ahead, usually alone, then others follow. But why have followers? My thoughts on that are… followers mean responsibility, followers begin groups, groups create community, communities need leaders, and leaders are often heroes who were ordinary people made into heroes because they were brave enough to step out of line. The whole purpose of being a loner is to not have followers. The destiny of a rogue is to not follow or be followed. Rogues don’t get worshiped. Heroes do. Rogues get into trouble, make mistakes, love whomever they want, do whatever they want, go where ever they please… Heroes have responsibilities, people depend upon them, people build them up til they are no longer human, and the more good deeds they do, the more they cease to be ordinary, they become more of a symbol. The enemy of the hero often gets himself killed because he represents a symbol of hope or is the leader of a movement. Rogues become legends but are often anti-heroes — they become heroes despite of their faults, bad language, and misdeeds — like “the hooker with a heart of gold” or the infamous, yet dashing highwaymen of the late 18th century, or the gunfighters of the Old West.

    Yet not all of them become famous, or even infamous… all I know is you may not consider me one of your teachers from the past, but I want you to consider me an equal. This witch is your friend, Drew. I look forward to tracking your progress on this blog of yours — don’t forget about me, please, because I’m always cheering you on, especially when you think you’re all alone!

  3. Valentina, those are some damn good points. The idea that the rogue is an anti-hero, while literary, also seems true to life in many cases. Not necessarily always, but I’m hard pressed to think of more than a few examples.

    I think the real difference between a rogue and a hero is that the hero stands for something. A rogue is like a ronin samurai,. A ronin has no master and thus stands for nothing but himself. It may be romantic but it is actually a position of shame. If a ronin is accepted by a new master, he has a purpose again.

    In the same way, a hero represents something bigger than herself. In this way, the travel involved in the Heroic Life is more like training than anything else. Eventually, the aspirant should either settle down, or join a cause, or otherwise commit to something.

    If that bears true, it means that by the time my Great Adventure is over, I should no longer be the Rogue Priest–!

  4. Drew…dude… I sense a bit of doubt in this post, and that’s cool. The strongest folks are the one that embrace their vulnerability and use it in their favor.
    As far a a movement, you’ve already started it. You can stop right now, and you will still go down as the creator of the Heroic Life, and look and see how many followers you have. OK maybe not as many as you want right now, but I will tell you this… you have affected my life. And to think we bumped into each other as I was web searching for a “rogue” priest to ask questions about one of my screenplays.
    I have Walk Like a God on my iPad and I refer to it many times. Whether you accept it or not, your movement has already started and you are the creator of it.
    During the “vulnerable ” down times… just open your eyes wide and look around. Really look around. Don’t speak, but look at details, colors, textures, study people’s faces, things you normally would not notice. You’ll be surprised at what you see. And how many other folks are watching you, learning from you. I am.
    A heartfelt thanks.
    -Jeff in New York City.

    • Thanks Jeff. It’s interesting to me that this post came across as being about doubt – I thought that might happen. In fact I feel a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. I know not to try something I’m not ready for yes, or force it before its time. By waiting, I can fully test the philosophy and refine it into something great – this will make it all the more right when I finally ask people to join me.

      That said, your words are touching to me. You’re right, of course: it’s already started in a way. It brings me true joy that you find my book so useful. Thank you.

  5. ADF Druidry has a great motto that describes how they develop their organization: “Fast as a speeding oak!”

    In other words, just as you say, movements have to grow organically, they can’t be rushed.

    I kinda get the impression that there’s a conflict within you between wanting to be a hero right away and knowing that it simply doesn’t work that way. Is that fair to say?

    I felt something similar for a long time as a meditator. I dunno if this is going to be at all similar to what you’re feeling, but…

    Every time I’d sit down on the cushion, my mind would quickly fill with ideas of how I would one day explain to others how to do meditation, how meditation works – all the amazing mindbogglingly awesome insights I was having. It was really distracting, and obstructed me from making any real progress in meditation. I felt very uneasy, because it seemed to suggest I had some kind of delusions of grandeur, or at least a fair bit of arrogance. I tried to put these thoughts out of my mind, but it only seemed to make them stronger. Thinking negatively about the thoughts actually gave them energy. There was a real conflict going on between the side of me that wanted to become an awesome meditation instructor right away, and the side that knew that it was gonna take a real long time for that to happen.

    Eventually, I learned to befriend the thoughts by just watching them mindfully, making them the object of meditation. I thought of them as a persona within me called “Teacher”, and whenever the thoughts would pop up, I would recognize it with a simple “aha, there’s Teacher.” That helped me put a healthy distance between myself and the phenomenon, stop identifying with it, and stop getting down on myself for having the thoughts constantly. Now they hardly arise anymore.

    As it so happens, I did end up becoming a teacher! – a teacher of English as a Second Language, though, not a meditation teacher. Who knows if some other kind of spiritual teaching is in my future? But suffice to say that recognizing and befriending the Teacher complex within me helped allow it to grow organically, rather than trying to rush it. And most of all, it helped me stop feeling uneasy about having Teacher within me, resolving the inner conflict.

    So, as I said before, that might not have the slightest relationship to what you’re feeling. But I thought I’d share it anyway. :-)

    • I think that is very closely related to what I’m talking about, BT. To the point where I’m already planning how I can take that same method and apply it to practicing the Heroic Life. Thank you!

  6. Pingback: Answering the Question “Why” « Rogue Priest

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