Perhaps very few of us do what modern mythologist Joseph Campbell describes as a great adventure, his claiming that those who pursue a path through life are following in the footsteps of others and are not on an adventure. That's how society is; obviously we could not have civilized values without pathways, and most of us are happy to earn rights to follow the lead of competent others. but this order includes the very rare as well. Those who go their own way. They either wreck their lives failing return to what Campbell calls the common light of day, and they are marked for that, or they achieve a great "boon" as Campbell names the productivity of eventual exchange among others.
Sound results recognized by others to have cultural value after the adventurer's going off the beaten path don't begin to become evident on the broad scale until he has returned, although this doesn't so much mean he adjusts and conforms, but to a great degree may transform the old order in need of new life. Even chaos is an extremely subtle order he must confront, survive and move beyond as he makes his way through a return to the future. Lives are threatened by this, that and the other thing every day, and while few of us intentionally place ourselves in harm's way, some us who do so seek to gain the experience, knowledge and wisdom to make good from what could have killed us. The successes are surely much more rare than failures. A schizophrenic may tell you about an adventure, and if any were to tell me so, I would grant the individual's word. But his or her return to normal dealings with people in a world with a difficult market for success, I would doubt this eventuality, though not rule it out as impossible.
For my Recorder Newspapers syndicated column this week, I wrote that angling may be a difficult way to approach success in life, but what you can learn from offering lures to fish is analogous to making contributions in human society. Fishing is light fare, however, when it comes to cultural contribution. Nevertheless, we anglers participate in nature: this is the primary process; civilized order is secondary to it, and it is always our best pride to add value to our human community.
Everything manmade is nature rearranged, including what we take from our re-creative experiences, which are personal resources for empowering our responses when we return to ordinary society from an outing. The great boon, as Joseph Campbell wrote, comes first from abandoning the world as we understand it. I think of Izaac Walton's abandonment of the British Civil War and Oliver Cromwell's rule, and there's no doubt he left the ordinary world and bestowed the boon of the most bestselling book besides The Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, but fishing, at least for me, serves as a lesser reminder of adventure I had in youth. It's too much to relate in a blog post. I sought the secret of nature, wanted to know the inner truth of matter and attempted to fully enter the world's natural process in a way much more profound than I do by fishing.
Philosopher Ayn Rand would never have approved of Joseph Campbell's "mysticism," but as a youth I admired her profoundly and followed her philosophy along with so much else I studied. She stated that a man cannot long survive in a state of nature. Rather than avoid a test of this, I did what poet and literary master T.S. Eliot suggests: "Only he who risks going too far can know how far one can go."
I wrecked in the end but never quit the effort to pick up the pieces and move into this world we share. Had I not ruined my life to such deep degree, I never could have experienced my life's source in nature to the degree that made me fortunate rather than dead. Nor could my mind and imagination have opened to what is deep within and high above. I don't regret having walked out to discover what obsessed me so intensely, not even at the cost of having to work wage jobs thereafter, but I hope not until I would retire.
It's not for any but a very few to try the likes, and people are always there to help these few--by discouraging them. The best I did was get far away from people so I could hear the undiluted tone of my own voice. But they were almost right about my ways leading to the impossibility of normal life.