“It frequently takes half a lifetime for the creatively talented individual to come to terms with one’s own talent, to accept it fully, and to unleash oneself, that is, to be postambivalent about one’s talent. …
In our society, the superior individual generally learns to put on a chameleon-like cloak of false modesty or humility. Or at the very least, she has learned not to say openly what she thinks of herself and her high capacities. …
In order to avoid punishment, she becomes humble, ingratiating, appeasing, even masochistic. In short, due to fear of punishment for being superior, she becomes inferior and throws away some of her capacity; that is, she voluntarily diminishes her possibilities of humanness. For the sake of safety and security, she cripples and stunts herself.”
That’s from chapter 9 called “The Jonah Complex.” And… THAT’s the passage Scott Barry Kaufman quoted in Transcend that a) blew the hair I don’t have back (lol) and b) led me to get the book from Amazon the next time I was online.
A few pages later, Maslow also tells us: “To say it even more simply, neurosis can be seen as containing the same impulse of growth and expression that all animals and plants share but with a mixture of fear. Therefore, growth will take place in a crooked, tortuous, or joyless way. … If we concede that the core self is at least partially biological in the sense of anatomy, constitution, physiology, temperament, and preferred, biologically driven behaviors, then it also may be said that one is evading one’s biological fate or destiny. Or, I could even say that such a person is evading her vocation, mission, and calling.
That is, she is evading the task for which her peculiarly idiosyncratic constitution fits her, the task for which she was born, so to speak. She is evading her destiny. That is why the historian Frank Manuel has called this phenomenon the Jonah complex. As we remember, the biblical tale of Jonah was that he was called by God to prophesy, but he was afraid of the task. He tried to run away from it. But no matter where Jonah ran, he could find no hiding place. Finally, he understood that he had to accept his fate. He had to do what he was called to do. In this case, we each are called to a particular task for which our nature fits us. To run away from it, fear it, become half-hearted, or ambivalent about it are all ‘neurotic’ reactions in the classic sense.”
CUE CHOIR OF ANGELS!!! (Right?)
Finally, Maslow wraps up this chapter with this: “Yet, from another perspective, it is possible to see these very same mechanisms as instances of our drive toward health, self-actualization, and full humanness. The difference between the diminished individual, wistfully yearning toward full humanness but never quite daring to make it, versus the unleashed individual, growing well toward her destiny, is simply the difference between fear and courage.”
MIC. DROP!!! (Right?) (Laughing.)
I don’t even know what to say about that other then: I’m going back to reread that all now. (lol)
Alright. I’m back. It’s impossible to touch on all the power in that so I’ll leave you to a personal check in with Abe and your daimon. I’ll just say that the word “unleashed” struck me profoundly.
For whatever reason (perhaps because Maslow talked about his ideas of the uberman), I thought of Nietzsche. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he tells us: “They have turned the wolf into a dog and man himself into the man’s best domesticated animal.”
Finally, as I read that first line about it “frequently taking half a lifetime for a creatively talented individual to come to terms with one’s own talent, to accept it fully, and to UNLEASH (!) oneself,” I thought of Confucius.
Here’s what he says in The Analects: “The Master said, Give me a few more years, so that I may have spent a whole fifty in study, and I believe that after all I should be fairly free from error.”
Confucius also tells us: “The Master said, At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I had planted my feet firm upon the ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities. At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I heard them with a docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.”
As I read that I realized I’m about ten years behind his schedule but feeling great about my progress and inspired by his long game. (Hah.)
How about you? Now a good time to ANSWER THE CALL?! (Good answer! :)
Here’s to stepping into the Future Vision of YOU and your most radiantly alive, eudaimonically and joyfully heroic self. TODAY!!