It does not take long to recognize that life is a crisis. A crisis is a serious or decisive state of things, or the turning point when an affair must soon terminate or suffer a material change; a decisive or critical time, stage, or event.
When applied to a medical condition it means the patient will soon be either well or dead.
The teachers tell us to embrace a crisis, and to pay attention to the demands it places on us. They tell us to look for the lessons and guidance contained in those demands.
Teachers come from many perspectives. One of the best is Christopher Vogler. He wrote The Writer’s Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers. He analyzes movies to reveal the myths they contain. One of the films that gets a lot of attention in his book is The Wizard of Oz.
He writes, “Many writers come to their craft only after they have been shattered by life in some way.” I can relate to that statement.
We are urged to seek happiness. I think that is delusional. I think our primary concerns should be kindness and courage. Even if we somehow manage an uneventful life—which I cannot imagine—we will still be surrounded by pain and misfortune.
The search for happiness involves a great deal of bluffing, and much outright deception. I will quote Mr. Vogler again:
Historically, the female characteristics in men and the male characteristics in women have been sternly repressed by society. Men learn at an early age to show only the macho, unemotional side of themselves. Women are taught by society to play down their masculine qualities.
Our efforts to conceal our real nature in order to be deemed acceptable constitutes a crisis. How much does our effectiveness decline because we are living out of false identities?
We can look around to get an idea of how vital it is to restore ourselves to full effectiveness and power. Yet we do not do that. We continue to repress our nature and watch the world deteriorate.
Mr. Vogler frequently references elixirs. An elixir is said to turn base metals into gold. The concept can easily be stretched to enable dull people to reveal their talent, charm, and full sense of wonder. A crisis is thrust upon us, we are told, to encourage that search for full expression.
I will close this post with some encouraging words from his book on the subject of Dorothy’s ruby slippers: “The shoes are a reassuring Mentor’s gift, the knowledge that you are a unique being with a core that cannot be shaken by outside events.”