Myths

“It’s all part of the myth,” Wyn said. She settled into her chair and thought about Morfael. She wanted to relate his myth truthfully but not necessarily factually. A person’s myth was far more than the particulars of one’s life; the details, dates and lists of accomplishments. One’s myth was fashioned largely from what a person believed about himself as well as how he was beheld by others. The truth of one’s myth was a combination of the three, it always was.

-Wyn, Myths of the Mirror

I love the idea that our lives are myths – so subjective. I know myself differently than each of my friends knows me, than my husband knows me, than my daughter knows me. Two people can have utterly different perspectives about me and both can believe they are accurate in their assessments. We create myths about the lives of presidents, movie stars and athletes. We act out choices based on what we believe about others and ourselves.

The wonderful result of this thinking is that we have a hand in writing our own myths. We can define and redefine who we are. We can be heroic in our own lives, make good choices, transform and become something new. The scary part is that, in acknowledging our capacity to create our myths, we accept responsibility for authoring our lives.

30 thoughts on “Myths

  1. So spot on!! Our lives are a mixture of myths, fairy tales and thickened plots waxing and waning like the moon…great post💙

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great power in that realization, Lisa, as I know you’ve discovered. We can remake our lives simply by making a new choice 🙂 Frightening and liberating at the same time! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! It truly is power in that realization…you are an amazing writer!

        Liked by 1 person

      • dianaconda says:

        The wording of your responding comment brought to my mind a bit of little-known information about a very widely-known historical event. When contextualized, this usually-overlooked detail is, in a way, “liberating.” So too may it be quite “frightening;” at the very least it is a detail of monumental significance in the shaping of our quotian world(s) today, of titanic significance at the time of the event, and of a significance to be measured in its greatness by each of us, individually, in understanding who we are, individually and collectively.

        The historical event called to my mind is among the- if not the sole- most critical, Earth-shaking, definitive, catastrophic, and startlingly brief, moments for humanity in the 20th century. Evaluated in objective terms, it proves even still to hold a place among the most critical, definitive, and catastrophic moments in all human history.

        The moment to which I refer occurred on Sunday morning, the 24th of June, 1914, at approximately 10:45 a.m. In the capital city of Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary, the driver of the vehicle in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg were traveling, along Appel Quay, erroneously made a right-turn onto Franz Josef Street- named, it so happens, for the Archduke’s late uncle, Emperor Franz Josef I. Realizing his error, the driver very quickly changed gears to put the vehicle in reverse, causing the vehicle to stall briefly.

        At that intersection was located a café, where Serbian-born Gavrilo Princip sat, defeated, having failed to muster the nerve to assassinate the Archduke upon his arrival in Sarajevo as instructed by his fellow Serbian conspirators against the Austro-Hungarian throne. The Archduke’s vehicle caught Princip’s attention as it stalled in the street at a distance of 1.5 meters (less than 5 feet) from where Princip sat.

        In that brief moment, Princip quickly made a decision. Princip stood, stepped forward, and pulled out a pistol concealed by his jacket. Just as the driver restarted the vehicle, Princip fired two shots, point blank, at the Archduke. The first bullet killed Duchess Sophie, who had moved to save her husband from the assassin. The second bullet hit its mark.

        This story is very well-known, of course, as it is widely attributed as the “Shot Heard Around the World,” the shot which triggered the First World War.

        Princip, along with 5 fellow Serbian and Bosnian conspirators, all members of the “Black Hand” secret paramilitary organization (though the organization was lead by Serbian Chief of Military Intelligence Apis) were arrested within minutes after the assassination of the Archduke. 3 other paramilitary conspirators involved in coordinating the Archduke’s assassination evaded capture in Sarajevo, but were found and arrested in Serbia at the Bosnian border.

        For the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Princip and those members of the Black Hand paramilitary who had planned the assassination, were charged with Conspiracy to Commit High Treason. Their trial began October 12, 1914, and ended on October 23, 1914. The minimum penalty for being found guilty of Conspirin to Commit High Treason against the Austro-Hungarian Empire was death by firing squad; the maximum penalty was death by hanging.

        Each of the defendants cited their motive as having been coerced by Chief of Military Intelligence APIs and declared their involvement had been against their will- all but Gavrilo Princip, that is. Princip unhestitantly proclaimed his guilt in murdering Franz Ferdinand, explaining to the court that he was proud to die for fighting for Serbian liberation.

        The verdicts were announced on October 28: nine conspirators, including Gavrilo Princip, were found guilty of Conspiring to Commit High Treason against the Empire.

        Three were sentenced to death by firing squad.

        Five were sentenced to death by hanging.

        Gavrilo Princip- he who actually pulled the trigger and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne- on the other hand, received a commutable 20-year-maximum prison sentence; a reduced sentence was already pending when the verdicts were announced.

        One might wonder: Why was Gavrilo Princip spared from execution?
        Or,
        Why was he not sentenced to life in prison, and instead given a rather lenient penalty [given the gravity of the crimes for which he was convicted]?

        Did he buy his way out? Was nepotism at work? Did he hold any power over the interests of the Empire? What was his bargaining chip?

        Gavrilo Princip had always expected to be sentenced to execution. He didn’t have any bargaining chip…

        But he didn’t need a bargaining chip. Princip’s comparably minimal sentence was the maximum penalty he could legally receive; being a juvenile, Princip was appropriately tried and sentenced as a minor.

        It is one worth at least a moment’s thought on who we are (and perhaps who we ought to be…), the power of our choices, the inherent interconnectivity of our actions, and how we paint our own portraits- somewhat blindly- for the world to perceive from its own vantage point, if we consider and contextualize a little-known fact:

        The Great War, which set the Earth ablaze, was sparked by the split-second decision of a child.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the comment and history lesson! That’s a perfect example of how each choice ripples out across space and time. Granted, this was no insignificant choice, but even the small ones have the power to change the course of human history.

          Liked by 1 person

          • dianaconda says:

            I apologize for the lengthiness of my comment; it’s not always easy to contextualize historical events succinctly (at least not for me!).

            In the case of Gavrilo Princip, we could easily label him a villain, a fool, a pawn, etc., even when granting that he could not possibly know how his actions might snowball far beyond any individual’s control.

            With due acknowledgement to the fact that the underdeveloped judgment skills & high impressionability of kids is NOT their fault: He was not necessarily any more foolish than any teenage boy under similar circumstances. It may not affect anyone else’s understanding of events and historical roles played over century ago, but as it was not so long ago that teenagers were my peers, the knowledge profoundly impacts my own perspective.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the follow up. A great comment, Diana. 🙂 We can’t know the long term impacts of our choices, but being thoughtful about them can’t hurt. 🙂 I think its commendable that you contemplate the possibilities into your perspective.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. It can be argued that myths are the foundations of society. In terms of religion anyway and what came after those myths in terms of how we structure ourselves. Although I never thought about it like you did. It’s brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m so glad you liked my play with reality. I’m actually convinced that perception plays a much larger role in identity than we imagine it does. We can recreate ourselves with a mere decision to do so! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Like

  3. I see what you describe here so clearly. We author ourselves. We are defined by our actions, the way we perceive ourselves and the way other people see us puts it all into perspective.
    I love how you stated it. Your wording makes the idea behind the myth sound like a myth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Diana Langie says:

    Our world is one in which the slightest misunderstandings, or the most brief communication breakdowns, can be matters of life and death; when such matters are the sort with lethal ramifications -initial intentions cast to the wind- the consequences may escalate in gravity, snowballimg into human-driven catastrophes of inconceivable scale. Anything from an insensitively-worded phrase uttered without thought, to a single gesture which translates very poorly from one culture to another cannot be discounted as origins of tragic misunderstandings.

    A hastily written note jotted down in an unintentionallly misleading personally-developed form of shorthand -meant only as a passing thought for its author’s eyes- especially if distant to its readers not geographically, but temporaly, is so easily grossly misinterpreted. Thus a a fleeting idea of no real consequence may become inflammatory and decisive, and for no reasons existent in actuality, may be warped by the passage of time and the by lenses of an audience for whom it was not written. In such cases, a bit of writing tossed aside may become of great consequence. As written above, “in acknowledging our capacity to create our myths, we accept responsibility for authoring our lives,” is a concept which rings true- perhaps sometimes truer than we may wish.

    Our individual understandings of history are critically important to our attitudes, and therefore our actions made today. Rarely, however is a crucial, challenging, complex element of history accepted nor well-understood. To reiterate, paraphrase, and expand a point made in this entry above, our human perspectives of any given subject-

    • a person ~ex. IL Goveenor Bruce Rauner;
    • a piece of literature ~ex. “The Dead,” by the late Irishman James Joyce;
    • a location ~ex. Crimea, Europe;
    • a school of thought ~ex. “Keynesian Economics,” (as opposed to…like …randomly off the top of my head, “Nordic Economics,”);
    • an act of legislation ~ex. The UN Charter’s amendment which states the severity of measureable harm caused to human society by abuse of girls & women is comparable to the destrucrtion wraught by War Crimes, as defined by UN legislation.Thus, per international law, judicial entities are supposed to extradite rapists to Geneva, for a UN tribunal hearing. The UN charges perpetrators of rape, VAW, and/or child abuse as War Criminals (the global consequencea of sexual abuse and violence against femalea prompted the UN to make no legal distinction betweem rape and/or VAW, and/or child abuse, and War Crimes ~ex. the participation in genocidal actions; “Scorched Earth”-style warfare, etc..
    • Religion and the approapriateness of its application
    • Quality, ethnocentrism, nationalist doctrines, wording bias, focus, scale, content, and accessibility of education

    ….or, any other imaginable topic-
    are literally as diverse as the number of humans alive on Earth.

    This supports the relevancy of a concept many people find difficult to conceive, in no small part because it is not a simple concept to understand. Other unfortunate contributing factors are that the intellectually insecure are easily spooked by multifaceted ideas, paranoid of being proven “wrong” even in matters of pure subjectivity, interpret challenges to what they believe they know as incontrovertible fact as challenges to their quality of character, become hostile towards the presentation of concepts with which they are not familiar as a self-defense mechanism , and are particularly prone to suffer from what psychology calla, “the spotlight effect,” (though the rate of progress in the development of psychology is comparable to that of continental drift; I can only give so little credit to such a soft, highly speculative science that is especially prone to human bias errors of unknown degrees, has remained virtually stagnant for ~60 or so years, and perhaps worst of all, is often founded in statistical analysis. (FYI: I do not mean to disparage those whose with the job title “statistical analyst,” “copyright reviewer,” “insurance consultant,” “patent office agent,” or the like- in fact I am very impressed by those demamding achievements and the cognitive capacity to attain such prestigious employment status. Statisatical study, from sample selection design, to evaluation of correlation coefficients’ accuracy & significance, is to cross a metaphorical minefield, or a geothermally active prairie flat riddled with sulfur vents, unmarked geysers, lava tube escapes, and dark, caustic chemical pools- except at least with minefields & sulfur vents, at least one knows immediately when one has misstepped! Whatever it was that Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain remarked; something along the lines of, “There are lies, dirty lies, damned dirty lies, and then statistics,” was, as he often was, insightfully accurate in stating this.

    The concept at hand is that there exist a multiplicity of realities. This blog post calls them “myths,” which is also a properly descriptive term. However, I want to emphasize that these “myths,” are no less “real” just because many of our perceptions are imagined. That which is considered part of “reality” is often imagined- while that which is imagined to be part of “reality” is no less real. This blog post mentions, “We act out choices based on what we believe about others and ourselves.” Very true. It is because we take actions and make choices based on what we think is true, regardless of whether what we is true originated in our imagination (our collective or individual imagination). Just as each has his or her own unique experiences and vantage points, each knows at least one unique reality.

    The hardest part of this multiplicity usually is its involvement in our retellings of history. I specifically try to read about historical events from the most accredited authors writing from the perspectives of the “winning” or “culturally dominant’ ‘side,’ the ‘side’ in direct opposition or the culturally eclipsed perspective, those writing from various moderate positions with vested interests related to the historical event, eyewitness accounts of “winners,” “losers,” “negotiators,” “moderates,” “radical” outliers of both main parties, “radical independent rogues” of neither major affiliation, modern interpretationa from all the above perspectives, and multiple eyewitness and modern accounts as told by parties with virtually no vested interests in the historical event. This is not always possible, but the attempt reveals that more than one, contradictory histories exist- yet can all be true.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said, although it is not just our lives which are myths. We inhabit a world of myth. What else are literature, poetry, drama, religion and philosophy, but wonderful stories we tell ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tina Frisco says:

    Life is an illusion; the great dream is reality. I like your choice of words: ” … accepting responsibility for authoring our lives.” Empowering 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. cmblackwood says:

    Fascinating! Every time I come to look at your blog, I find something else that’s perfectly nifty. Since I’ve built a home for myself in a world of fiction — this really hits home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a perfect idea: we have so much power to define and redefine ourselves if only we weren’t afraid to USE it.

    Little by little I’ve taken up the mantle of ‘writer,’ so that I can now say both that I am one, and talk about what I write, without being shy about it. It was hard work, I DID the work, and I think I’ve taught myself an awful lot. There’s always room for improvement – but there is also the need to stop and claim.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is a cool thought, “our lives are myths.:” Very creative.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As a writer, these are words to live by. The myths we conjur of ourselves and the myth of who we are woven by others. All different, all relative. It is astounding to realize we are all these things, in one embodiment.

    Liked by 4 people

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