Your Own Damn Life: an interview with Michael Meade in The Sun

Michael Meade is an author, storyteller, and a passionate advocate of soul values in a world that increasingly ignores them; I’ve written about Meade or mentioned him in half a dozen posts.

In The Water of Life (revised, 2006) he shares his discovery that stories can be a matter of life and death.  As a teen in New York, when confronted by gang members from a rival neighborhood, Meade didn’t just lie his way out of serious injury or worse – he storied his way out, with an elaborate made-up tale that won over the assailants long enough for him to make his escape.  Readers of my recent posts will recognize a thriving trickster in Meade when he was just a kid!

I recently found an interview between Michael Meade and John Malkin in the The Sun that is as timely today, or more so, than in November, 2011, when it was published.  In the interview, “Your Own Damn Life,” Meade quotes an African proverb, “When death finds you, may it find you alive.”  Alive, he goes on to say, “means living your own damn life, not the life that your parents wanted, or the life some cultural group or political party wanted, but the life that your own soul wants to live.”

In the past, meaningful stories could guide soul evolution, but now, with the culture and the natural world both in crisis, Meade points to our lack of coherent, guiding tales.  A culture falls apart, he says, when youthful imagination and energy are stunted and when the traditional wisdom of elders is forgotten.  At one extreme, “You’re not supposed to be worrying about the end of the world as a teenager; you’re supposed to be bringing your dream to it. The world seems old and troubled now, and the young are no longer allowed to be as young as they should be.”  At the other extreme, we have a lot of “olders” but not many wise “elders.”

When traditional stories collapse, Meade says, the guiding and healing stories must come from within.  “That means going to the core of your own life and finding the story seeded within.”  Meade has tried to facilitate such explorations through his writings and talks, which first became known in the 80’s when he, James Hillman, and Robert Bly hosted a series of men’s conferences.

Meade continues to teach, write, and offer a variety of community services through the non-profit Mosaic Foundation he founded in Seattle where he lives.  If you’ve read this far, you will find Meade’s interview in The Sun and the Mosaic page hightly rewarding and likely sources for new ideas.


11 thoughts on “Your Own Damn Life: an interview with Michael Meade in The Sun

  1. Ditto here! It’s so rare to find others who know of this marvelous storyteller. I was fortunate to go to his conferences that you mention, twice – once in Seattle and once in SF. I have recordings of them that are quite remarkable, especially if you also enjoy Robert Bly and James Hillman as I do. Thank you for reminding me of Michael and for the link to the interview.


    • I never made it to the Bay Area conferences, but I heard Hillman in small group settings on several occasions, and his influence permeates this blog. I also dip into Bly’s writing and poetry from time to time. Thank you for sharing your interest!


      • You’re welcome Morgan! I try not to sound like a Hillman junkie, but his ideas changed my thinking, my heart and perhaps my life.


      • Oh duh – I wasn’t paying attention and sent a link to the very post you were commenting on. Ideas like Hillman’s change our lives without any doubt. I look back at some discoveries like that as milestones, like my first year in college, when I read The Odyssey and discovered Jung and Tolkien – life has been richer ever since for that.


      • Herman Hesse, Alan Watts, C.G. Jung, Norman O. Brown, Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, and quite a bit of Sci-Fi, but especially Robert Anton WIlson’s The Illuminatus Trilogy.
        I really want to read the Odyssey. I hear it is difficult…


      • I had the Robert Fitzgerald translation, which is still in print, and I didn’t find it too difficult. It’s a legible verse translation, and an imagination primed with a few early Sinbad movies filled in the gaps:

        “Sing in me muse, and through me tell the story
        of that man, skilled in all ways of contending,
        the wanderer, harried for years on end,
        after he plundered the stronghold
        on the proud height of Troy.”


  2. Thank you for introducing me to Michael Meade. That was a great interview, so much to think about. Besides the wonderful African quotation about “When death finds you, may it find you alive” I particularly liked his comments on the limitations of social networking.


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