Fame, Personal Development, Philosophy, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life

Purpose: To Inspire

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part I of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure.

Fame & Inspiration

For a long time I denied that I wanted to pursue fame. Fame is not a goal usually associated with spirituality.  I was very open about it when I was a teenager. I was sure I’d go down in history. In retrospect this is a healthy motivation we should encourage in young people. To crumple that kind of drive is a crime.

But crumple we do.

We want people to be humble. To be spiritual or mature or social or likable, you are supposed to downplay your ambition and self-esteem. Put yourself down with a smile, we like you better that way.

Working to be respected as a priest, to found a temple and to excel at interfaith work, I learned to wear the mask of humility that’s expected of leaders.

Then I forgot it was a mask.

Meditating on an isolated sheep farm I confronted the barb in my heart. Why aren’t you doing what you’re meant to do?

I was afraid my lifelong dream was too selfish, would be too silly to ever voice. People don’t say, “I want to be famous.” Only kids say that. But I do want to be famous.

I can’t tell you, the gods, or anyone why I feel a drive for fame. It’s as natural to me as my love of the outdoors. To die famous is so essentially me it feels like Fate, except I don’t believe in fate. So let’s just say it’s who I am.

I choose to accept that. And more: I love it.

The Value

We are told to regard fame as: un-spiritual, egoistic, unrealistic, childish. It must be a selfish goal. Here’s an alternative perspective on fame. Fame can be an inspiration. As inspiration, fame has the power to improve the world. It becomes selfless.

There was a time when it was considered virtuous to seek immortality through fame, and fame through accomplishment. This is much better for society than meekness. When we challenge ourselves to attain the utmost, we create a culture of inspiring others to move forward.

The difference lies in the motivation. If you seek fame only for your own glory it’s selfish. I used to think this way when I was 14 or 15. Now I’m much more interested in seeing how I can use my life to help the people around me experience happiness.

Many people start a good path with selfish goals. If they’re sincere they will purify.

The Form

So how do I pursue fame and inspiration?

It would be fun to go down as the greatest magician of the 21st century. Or to become a famous writer—that’s a dream anyone can understand.

Those are parts of who I am, but there’s one thread that runs unwavering through it all.

Philosophy.

Philosophy is my love affair. It’s my formal training, a personal strength, and the one skill I’ve used in all my other pursuits as author, adventurer, priest, and artist. It is the project of how best to live a life.

My approach is tactile. I use my own daily life as a living drawing board for my ideas. It gives me advantages and hurdles compared to an academic, but it certainly delivers results.

And that’s the power of the Great Adventure. It’s the ultimate practice of experimental philosophy. A trip isn’t worthy of fame—walking really far is impressive but it’s just my personal project. But if that experience can be distilled into something to share with others, then the huge risk is worth it.

So the first purpose of the Great Adventure could be written as:

To inspire courage through the power of adventure.

To become a famous philosopher.

To raise spirits.

As I admit and embrace this purpose, what advice can you offer me? What should I learn and bear in mind as I pursue it?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

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Fame, Spotlight, Writing

Hemingway’s Long Game

He thought about alone in Constantinople that time, having quarrelled in Paris before he had gone out. He had whored the whole time and then, when it was over, and he had failed to kill his loneliness, but only made it worse, he had written her, the first one, the one who left him, a letter telling her how he had never been able to kill it…

—Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro

What would it take to write that story?

The main character is an American writer who lives in Paris with his lover. They drink heavily and travel on sporting trips in exotic places. An interesting character.

Except the author, too, is an American writer who lives in Paris with his lover, drinking heavily and going sporting.

And he writes about his, er, the character’s trip to go whoring after a fight with her, and writing to the ex he still loves, before coming home and saying nothing of it.

Saying nothing, but writing it, and didn’t his lover ever read it?

And did it break her heart to know?

Truth

There are always times when the truth can hurt. More than once, when I’ve mentioned someone on this blog—and thought I was only reporting, matter-of-fact, what was said or done—they told me they didn’t like how they were “portrayed.”

Does a future girlfriend want to read about my past love? Did my mom want to read that I contemplate my death?

There is a collision of worlds that happens here, and in any responsible blog.

When it hurts it’s the author’s fault.

The Long Game

I play for the long game. I’d rather write something great than keep everyone happy.

In all his writing, Hemingway chose to be canny and blunt. He lays out the people around him exactly as he sees them: their faults as well as their virtues, but mostly their faults. His stories are thinly masked extractions from his own life. The characters represent the individuals or types he knew, and his opinions are clear.

It led to a rough life for Hemingway. The drinking, the war, and everything else helped too—but his series of shattered relationships certainly weren’t made easier by publishing exactly what he thought of them.

Still…

Those relationships are done now. The people who were hurt, all dead. Hemingway lived his personal tragedy and his time in the starring role is done.

Long after those feelings are buried, his books remain and his name stays great. He had such a sharp eye for human psychology, and said things so clearly and honestly, that it speaks to us. His stories shake you to the core because you know the people in them. You know them, and you find yourself, too.

He speaks with an honesty most writers are afraid of.

How should a blogger talk about their friends, family, and the people they meet? What do you think? Is writing something truthful and powerful worth it, if it hurts people’s feelings?

How much of your potential do you censor for others?

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