Lucid Myth

Looking towards Port Angeles from Hurricane Ridge

I was hiking through the Colorado wilderness, hoping I knew where I was, but feeling pretty lost.  The map I brought with me was published before a forest fire devastated the area, and though the topography was still largely the same, trails and streams had shifted and forested areas were gone, shaking my confidence.By their very nature, models are simplifications, meant to explain something more complex by leaving out detail and smoothing out variation. 

A popular maxim goes “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” A useful model allows you to chart a course through an unknown environment, or predict behavior in the midst of overwhelming detail. When predictions don’t pan out (no trail, no forest, no stream), you have to decide what to trust. I chose the contour lines (and made it home!).

Another kind of model are the myths we use to navigate our lives. I use the word myth because beliefs provide a kind of description of reality, while not always matching up with our experience. A myth is both an explanatory story (a kind of map or mental model) and an extended metaphor. So the “myth of the self-made man” is all about motivation, individual focus, grit – even though no one is self-made (see Arnold Schwarzenegger). It’s not true, but it can be useful (though it comes toxic baggage).

I recently read about someone who got lost in the woods, and trusted their intuition to lead them home.  They got more lost and almost died. Fortunately they were ultimately rescued.  The model that holds intuition is a kind of supernatural channel to knowledge (like the way home) didn’t work out for them. In my story, intuition is a powerful tool (think the book “Blink”), but it is not a voice of universal knowing.

Becoming more aware of the myths that define and guide us, crafting myths that aide and support our journey, with a goal of more fully living our values – this is the idea behind Lucid Myth.

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