Michael Meade: It's a Latin word, but like I said, it comes from an older word, "genie," which is found in North Africa, and the literal translation is "The spirit that's already there." It means it's in us when we're born. So naturally this can't be proven, because by definition it's a spirit, and spirit doesn't subject itself to scientific proof, and therefore a lot of people pretend that it's not there. And yet when you get to know someone, and if you happen to be a teacher working with children or young people, you see the genius in them. It's a characteristic - or a character, actually, in them - that includes the things I mentioned.
Each person has gifts and talents that are intended to be given to the world. If they're not given, they can be the cause of a depression in a person's life. Talent comes from an old German word which meant "The weight used to measure gold." And so our talents are kind of a gold, but they're also a kind of a weight, and if we don't give them, they become heavier. And I know people whose depression is based on the fact that they've never learned how to give their talents and their gifts. But genius includes those things, but it's bigger than those things: because it also includes the purpose of one's life, which is, according to these old stories and all, hidden within, trying to come out, and then it includes what I call "A unique style."
Style has become a word associated with fashion, but really the meaning of it is "Something that inscribes." So the old idea is that inscribed in each of us is a style; and if we can find that personal style, which is unique to the person, then we live a more awakened, inspirited life, which gives us the satisfaction that we're doing something meaningful and purposeful, but, it also benefits those around us.
Mythologically, when a world is in trouble, it needs not one big idea that brings everybody together, but actually, everybody to bring their core ideas and their cores gifts into full revelation. That's what helps bring the culture back together, but also, in this very rare time we're living in, becomes the way we aid nature as well.
Rob Kall: You said "A more awakened, inspirited life." Now that's a word that is a not a commonly used word, "inspirited." What do you mean by that?
Michael Meade: One of the old definitions of depression was "A loss of spirit"; so you could say that the interior of a person's life is a combination of spirit and soul. Those two words are often used interchangeably, but they're actually different words, in the sense that spirit is connected to fire and to air, and it tends to rise up. So when we are inspirited, we're seeing the big picture, we're feeling the big energy, and we're connecting to the bigger drama of life. Soul is connected to water and earth, and it tends to go down. So when we're connected to soul, we're more aware of the place we're in, and we can penetrate into the very deep feelings and emotions that connect humans one to the other, but also that connect us to the world around us.
A person is supposed to get a bigger and bigger sense of spirit in their life at the same time (or alternatively, with) a deeper and deeper sense of soul in their life. So the people that we consider heroes or models, the kind of people we revere, usually have some combination of awakened spirit and descended soul.
Rob Kall: Heroes. OK. I have two questions out of this. 1. Who are your heroes?