Day 4 – “The Insecure Way is the Secure Way”

Arise

“Arise,” watercolor and pencil on paper by Mary Gow

Those were the words of highly admired teacher, author, mythologist, Joseph Campbell.

The other day I heard author Neil Strauss mention this quote when Timothy Ferriss interviewed him on Creative Live.

I had to write it down because it reminded me of a session I once had with an adviser who said the best career path for me wouldn’t be “secure.” And this baffled me.

The way the adviser (who will remain anonymous but she has advised the rich and famous in New York) explained it, my steady day job at that time bored me but created structure.

If my home environment was also “secure,” then I would feel boxed in.

So as she saw it, I was the kind of person who needs some element of challenge and having two stable structures I would feel “boxed in,” depriving me of the change and variety I thrive on.

Surprisingly, her advice was for me to go with what wasn’t safe and secure, which was to work pursue painting and photography and work for myself. It would be changing all the time. Which would then make me appreciate and want stability in other parts of my life.

Isn’t it refreshing to hear that Joseph Campbell promoted that attitude?

It’s the “Leap and the net will appear,” (John Burroughs) kind of trust.

Campbell chose an insecure way during the Great Depression when he decided not to continue his doctoral studies at Columbia and spent some time on a farm in upstate New York. (The Joseph Campbell Foundation website has a full description).

“[I]f you follow your bliss, you’ll have your bliss whether you have money or not. If you follow money, you may lose the money, and then you don’t have even that. The secure way is really the insecure way and the way in which the richness of the quest accumulates is the right way.” — Joseph Campbell (An Open Life, 1990)

In “Joseph Campbell’s Mythic Journey,” Jonathan Young calls these years his “unsponsored scholarship.”

Once source said that during this time, Campbell divided his day into four four-hour periods and read nine hours a day.

In 1934 Campbell was offered a teaching position at Sarah Lawrence College. He accepted the job and was there for the next 38 years.

This “insecure way” doesn’t bode well with parents set on predestined ideas for what their children will become.

But as adults, we’re responsible for where our lives are going, not our parents.

Being an artist isn’t especially synonymous with “entrepreneur.” But it might be time to put it into the curriculum for artist survival.

Found this article worth reading: “What if artists were trained as entrepreneurs?” by Jim Hart.

Today’s painting today is titled “Arise.”

It’s about time for that.

Keep going.

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” -Joseph Campbell

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