In medieval literature and the legendary materials associated with Great Britain, King Arthur is often recalled repeatedly. King Arthur was a British King who lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. Among the many heroic tales in Arthurian literature, there is a particular myth which I believe is an ancient metaphor of every man’s life.
The myth is about a magical sword called “Excalibur” owned as a lineage by King Arthur. The legend is this – when Arthur was a young boy a group of enemies infiltrates his castle and kills his parents. The only survivor was the young boy Arthur who drifts away in a boat. He was later found by some prostitutes and they raise him. Arthur grows as a skilled fighter and a man of the streets. He was completely unaware of the past and never knew that he was the rightful heir of the Kingdom. But few things happen and one day he had to extract the magical sword “Excalibur” from a stone. Through many dramatic events that happen later, he fights the enemies with that sword and finally becomes the King.
Beyond the literal meaning of the above narrative, this dynamic is the story of every man ever lived and living.
In every man’s life, there is a period, when the world out there is trying to tell you who you are and the world in here trying to tell you who you are.
The Only Human Dynamic
I have seen my friends and myself going through depression, self-doubt and many hardships of life. The problems may vary but it all comes down to one single dynamic-
- Other people’s perception.
- Your wants and desires.
- Your significant self.
Every day, every man goes through a battle between his two different identities. The one identity is you, who want the world to think who you are. The second identity is who you are.
How one could figure out who he is and his purpose?
The answer is to own your self.
In the narrative of King Arthur, the stone is the material world that we are in. It seems solid when they are inside that stone and projects their self upon it. Extraction of the sword from the stone is taking back your authority and divinity. Fight the demons of your past using that sword and you will eventually figure out your purpose.
People are asking others to tell them who they are. Truth is, one should not be looking for a sense of meaning outside themselves.
Liberate and Own Your Self
You should be man enough to liberate yourself from the material world. For me, the material world was the digital platforms in which I paid the valuable attention that I could have used otherwise. So two years back I decided to use my attention and energy to my writing and reading. I liberated myself from social media and owned a website.
If you don’t own something, you are not the boss. You have to take full responsibility for everything you do. Why be subservient to what everyone else is doing or thinking? You must be the master of your kingdom.
The Two Worlds
There exist two different worlds around us – an outer world and an inner world.
The whole idea of the outer world is to sell you stuff that you don’t need and make you feel bad about yourself. It appears as the – colourful life of your friends you see on your Instagram feed or the very personalized ads from Google based on your search history. The outer world is very noisy and has all the temptations. It has all the toys for you to be numb about your true self. But your inner world is always trying to tell you who you are and will try to act as your intellectual self.
Why your intellectual self is interfering?
Your mental battle is your mistake.
If you have a mental battle between the outer world and your inner world, it’s because you don’t think you are enough in the first place.
The Prodigal Son and The Journey
The prodigal son is a famous bible story. In the story, a father has two sons. The younger son asks the father for his inheritance and the father grants his wish. The younger son is very wasteful and decides to leave the place and squander his fortune. Later the son becomes destitute and informs his father to accept him back as a servant. To the son’s surprise, the son is not scorned by his father and welcomes him with a great party. The older son is surprised by his father’s decision to welcome back the younger one, decides to not to participate in the festivities. The father tells the older son “you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours, but your younger brother was lost and now he is found”.
I find that this bible story has more depth than what we see in a literal meaning. Here the father is you. The older son is that intellectual self. The younger son is your self that wants to wander and figure out what all these are. But when the wandering was complete, he figured out who he was and returned to his significant self. The older son or the intellect self is a fool who doesn’t understand the significance of the younger one’s journey.
You Must Be – The King
In both the narratives of King Arthur and the prodigal son, one could find few eloquent things about a man’s path to an authentic life.
- Liberate yourself from the outer world – Like the sword is extracted, take back your authority from the material world.
- Extreme ownership – Take extreme ownership for your actions and take full possession of your life. You shouldn’t be walking with your eyes half-opened. You should walk into things with your eyes fully opened.
- Make a fool of yourself and begin a journey – An intellectual self is not intellect. It’s the voice of an outer world. Don’t listen to it and start a journey as the young son did. As King Arthur did, wander in the streets and become a man of the street. Or like I did be a man yourself to quit social media and own a website. It’s only when you make a fool of yourself, things become interesting.
- Don’t hate the game, love the game and own the game – there is a saying – don’t hate the player, hate the game. But never hate the game. Love the game, because you are in it. Accept the rules.
One must own himself. Somehow we have to give enough confidence to reassure ourselves that we are enough in the first place. If one follows the above rules then he will eventually figure out himself and will return to that.
If a man wants to be the king, it’s not enough to act like the king. He must be the king. There can be no doubt. Because I find that, doubt causes chaos in his own demise.
PS: Currently I’m reading the book Extreme Ownership written by a couple of navy seals. It’s an important book that is eloquent about taking extreme ownership of our every action. I will be reading such important books this year and also the ones listed here. I encourage you to do the same as there has never been a good time to read and grow.