I haven’t visited Twitter in over a month, and yet some of the latest Twitter drama still managed to reach me in this tiny hippie village at the southmost corner of Europe. As far as I’ve heard, today’s main hero of the timeline is someone whose reading list turned out to be “too basic” for the critics’ sophisticated tastes.
I haven’t read the original criticism (thank goodness!), but I can definitely relate to the fear of being called basic. There are at least a dozen articles and hundreds of tweets I’ve never written because I thought they were too basic and obvious. I always liked to think of myself as an intelligent and educated person, shouldn’t my insights be intelligent and revelatory too? Why would I rehash something that has been already said a thousand times? If I want to share something with the world, I’d better make sure it’s actually something worth sharing.
With this newsletter I’ve finally found a way to left go of this fear. Something called Grandmotherly Wisdom doesn’t have to sound smart, impressive, or paradigm-shifting. The power of grandmothers’ stories isn’t in their unique or novel insights. Quite the contrary, at their best such tales carry ancient timeless wisdom repackaged for current context.
When everyone is trying to be the smartest and most impressive person in the room, there is great power in restating obvious things in relatable way. Not just because different things are basic to different people, but also because it has the highest chance of actually helping someone. For every self-development hero who’s already read all the basic books, applied all the principles, and craves for something more sophisticated, there are thousands of people at the beginning of their journey, looking for simple advice on where they can get started.
It feels like everyone now wants to be the hero of his or her own Hero’s Journey, to go where no one has ever gone before, achieve great deeds, slay the dragon, and leave a dent in the Universe. And so do I, I’m the biggest advocate for setting out on an epic quest, challenging your most cherished beliefs, and facing your fears so that you can see what you’re capable of. No matter what exactly your epic quest is going to be, doing something ambitious you’ve never done before is guaranteed to be both a great learning opportunity and a fascinating adventure.
But eventually, the hero has to come back to the village, share his gifts with everyone, and actually settle down. He leaves epic quests for other young men and women who are yet to find their true power, and becomes just an ordinary villager - not because he’s given up on changing the world, but because he knows that’s the best way he can serve it. The Hero’s Journey was never just about the hero or his extraordinary deeds, in the end it’s also about how these adventures help him relate to his folk in a fresh and inspired way.
People who scoff at someone’s insights or recommendations being too basic remind me of a hero who refuses to come back home in the end. He might have done something his neighbors or cousins can’t even imagine, and it makes him believe there’s no way they can relate to him after that. He takes great pride in his accomplishments and would be terrified to get mistaken for one of these ordinary peasants. After all the trials he has gone through, surely this can’t be his reward?
As long as the hero is worried about rewards or recognition, or being seen as a hero among ordinary villagers, his journey isn’t over yet. He still has to internalize that no one can take away the treasures he found in the dragon’s cave. Once you do that, there’s no need to prove anything to anyone anymore.
In the end you won’t be worried about being mistaken for one of the normies who make the most basic claims on Facebook or at family Christmas dinner. Sharing your precious gifts with those normies will be its own biggest reward.
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I needed to hear this. Thanks
Great piece! My favorite "normie" is Odysseus. He travelled the known world and fought fierce battles, survived feuds with a noble back and cool head,
and at the end he returned to Ithaca where his noble and faithful wife awaited.
It really is the most beautiful tale.