Fall Update

Yes, it has been quite a while since I’ve provided an update. The study into Joseph Campbell’s life was a success and I have to admit that he was a very interesting individual. A Fire in the Mind by Robin Larson was a fantastic look into Joseph’s life beyond the Hero’s Journey.

Since finishing it, I’ve also read The Fourth Turning by William Strouss. This book is written by a history professor who has analyzed American history and found interesting patterns that link generational differences, societal differences, and the status of American economic and geopolitical success. While I wouldn’t use it like Biff did the Sports Almanac in Back to the Future 2, the idea that our issues and successes are cyclical can help us to deal with some of the societal stresses that plague our day-to-day lives.

Shortly afterward, I read Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. This was similar to other leadership books penned by other former members of the special operations world, where there are a few key ideas that are supported by war stories. Aside from the stories, those ideas could probably fit comfortably on one page if you included a chart or two. These books all have a common theme – servant leadership and personal accountability. While it wasn’t necessarily profound in my eyes, I’m sure there are some good takeaways that can be used to influence anyone’s leadership philosophy.

I also recently finished reading the Inheritance Cycle once again. This fantasy book series, by Christopher Paolini is easy to read and has an excellent story. The world he created and character development is top-notch and I would put it against almost any other series in the same genre. One of the main reasons I decided to purchase the 4-piece set again was to introduce the story to my children, which has worked out rather well.

I’m currently about a third of the way through a biography on Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. This book is well researched and well written. What I’ve learned the most so far is that da Vinci was a very smart and creative person. There aren’t really any actionable takeaways, though. He almost never finished a commissioned piece of artwork, which puts a bad taste in my mouth. Critics say that it is because he was a perfectionist, but that doesn’t excuse old Leo for not completing the jobs that he was paid to do. I’ve also learned that while I certainly enjoy art, I don’t love it to the level where I can sit and read about the history of these famous artists.

Finally, I also created a gaming YouTube channel to help lessen the impact of the pandemic. I’m not necessarily focused on the gameplay though, but with improving my video editing, commentary, marketing, and storytelling skills. It also gives me another opportunity to connect with the kids. I am happy to announce that my channel just surpassed 1000 subscribers, 30,000 video views, and I’ve been blessed with a strong and active community of supporters.

What’s next? I’ll probably read Christopher Paolini’s newest work – To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. After that, I’d like to revisit my old reading list. It is primarily comprised of classics and I’d like to complete it someday.

Do you have any book recommendations? Have you read any of these books as well? Let me know in the comments!

Winter Update

Joseph Campbell & The Hero's Journey
Joseph Campbell (image source: odyssey.antiochsb.edu)

The last time I posted, I hinted toward something like a new podcasting approach aimed solely at continued learning. That led me to start learning about Joseph Campbell, who became famous for his work in The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

That took me to an overview of his Hero Journey work, a Netflix documentary named Finding Joe, and then a biography of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larson called A Fire in the Mind.

What I thought was going to be one episode about Joseph Campbell and then 9 episodes on the Hero’s Journey has turned into a few months of just reading and researching about the man, himself. Joseph was so much more than what we know him for. He was a world-class athlete, a biologist, an author, a philosopher, a musician (of probably more than 10 instruments), an educator, and just an all-around thinker.

This is my long way of saying that I’m not even close to planning a podcast series and probably won’t be for several months. That said, I am having a blast and old Joe is giving me quite a bit to think and read about.

Back to the letters,


Bewilderment: The Childhood Benefits of Being Confused

I’m no child psychologist. I’m not a doctor, school teacher, guidance counselor, or even a mother. I have no formal education in the proper development of children. My only credentials whatsoever on this topic are my own upbringing, a keen observance of the world around me, and the fact that I am a father of five. Today, some might claim that being a father does not make me qualified to share my thoughts on parenting, but that is a topic for a different day.

I watch my children go about their day-to-day lives and often the questions they ask are fascinating. The questions that people ask, no matter the age, are an excellent indication of so many things – their thoughts, their emotions, their experience, their understanding of the world. Through those inquiries and the looks in the eyes of babes as they try to work out the subtle details of life that adults take for granted. It is that internal struggle that makes all the difference.

I was recently watching a show with my daughters called “Ann with an E”, a Netflix series based on the children’s novel, “Anne of Green Gables”. I watched little Anne in the first few episodes trying to assimilate into civilized culture, learning how to interact with the children at school and what it was like to have a family. She was confused in the same way that I remember being when trying to respond to any change, and it inspired the words you are reading.

We try so hard with our modern parenting ideas to protect our children from any discomfort. We forget though, that it was through similar discomforts as children that we were able to learn and grow. The stoics taught that we must embrace challenges and recognize them for what they are – an opportunity for greatness.

Bewilderment is an important part of development.

All for now. Thanks for reading.