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What Creates Passion and Passionate People, and What Defeats it In Us? Interview with Gregg Levoy

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Rob: This epiphany that your book gave me is all about the hero's journey too which I've given talks on and written about. So the first step is you're in this ordinary world, everything's steady. Then you get the call, which you wrote a book about -

GL: Yeah.

Rob: And then the next step is refusal of the call. Now, to me the call is a little leak in your bottom up brain that opens up a way for you to see the call. And then, slam.

GL: Yeah.

Rob: Your top down brain goes no, no, no, don't do that. Stay where things are, do things the same way.

GL: Exactly.

Rob: Or someone else comes into your life.

GL: That says the same thing.

Rob: Yes.

GL: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean and if it's any consolation to people, that's phase one of responding to a call is ignoring it; is refusing it; is deep-sixing it. It's the let this cup pass from me, phase of the journey, right? Or I'm a fan of the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, so in the Hobbit, which is you know, the prequel to the trilogy, Bilbo gets a knock on the front door from Gandalf, the wizard and he says I have an adventure for you to take and Bilbo's reaction classic phase one stuff, he says oh no, no, no, no; no, no, no we're just plain quite village folk, we have no need for adventures, nasty, disturbing uncomfortable things make you late for dinner.

Rob: Right.

GL: Classic phase one.

Rob: I like to use the example of Luke Skywalker in Star wars; George Lucas literally learned with Joseph Campbell and Luke Skywalker gets the invitation from Obi-Wan Kenobi: come with me and help me rescue princess Leia and I'll teach you about the power of the force -

GL: Right.

Rob: - and he goes oh no, I have to help my aunt and uncle harvest.

GL: Right, the harvest, right. Exactly. Or here's another one. Calvin and Hobbs, I think it was Calvin and Hobbs - or no, no it was Blue County. Blue County had a character name Binkley, was a ten-year-old boy and he was famous for having this closet of anxieties, right? And one day he's lying in his bed and out bursts a knight on a stallion who invites him to come on a grand adventure, and the little boy says oh no, I have a school report on snails due in the morning, you know? And the knight rides back into the closet and Binkley is left alone with himself in his bed with his sheet pulled up to his chin and he says to himself, you know someday when I've got kids and a job and a Chrysler mini van in the garage and liver p te rotting in the fridge, I'm going to say to myself Binkley, you poor miserable bored yuppy. You never went for the gusto. But that - whatever version of that erupts in peoples' lives, again if it's any consolation, that's natural, it's inevitable, it's universal to respond that way initially to a call, which is exactly what I did at the Cincinnati Inquirer. For five years I said no to the call because it terrified me to leave employment for self-employment.

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