Destiny Dynamics: The Art of Living Life to the Nth Degree

“Not everyone has a destiny; only the hero who has plunged to touch it, and has come up again ~ with a ring.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Destiny is a tricky thing. It’s both searching for you (organically and energetically) and sought by you (subconsciously or consciously).

But for most people there is a thick cloudy wall erected between them and their destiny. There’s a threshold or a crossroads of some sort that must be passed or overcome. But most people never gain the wherewithal to even reach that point, let alone to have a deep experience of destiny.

Why is this? Analyzing Campbell’s quote can help us figure it out…

Only a hero, someone with courage—whether that courage is going on a great adventure, questioning belief structures, challenging authority, or facing your fear—will be able to experience destiny.

But there must be risk involved. There must be some sort of adventure. There must be a stretching of one’s comfort zone. There must be an upsetting of one’s settled mind. That’s the “plunge.”

Having plunged into the depths, having taken the leap of courage into the unknown and heeded the call to adventure, one is then prepared to discover. “The ring” is the symbol for this discovery. It represents sacred knowledge, deep philosophy, magic elixir.

It can just as easily be symbolized as a secret cloak, a mysterious sword, an enchanted book, a keystone strategy, or a philosopher’s stone. Each destiny will be different, unique according to the individual’s imagination, personality, and overall disposition.

However, the secret to living life to the nth degree and discovering your destiny from the magic elixir, is not to cling to any symbol, ideology or knowledge gained along the way. This is the critical point where an examined life becomes a destiny (or where it fails to become a destiny).

Clinging leads to closemindedness. It prevents openminded examination. It cuts off the hero’s seeking energy. It ends the journey. And if you’re attempting to live to the nth degree, the journey must be the thing. The trick—to remaining fluid, flexible and adaptable—is not to get caught up in the delusions of the journey, but to strategically question them instead.

If, as Scott Adams said, “The human mind is a delusion generator, not a window to truth,” it stands to reason that some people are more delusional than others. Those who are more delusional are the ones caught up in their delusions. But some are less delusional than others; they are the ones questioning their delusions.

As far as allowing the journey to be the thing, living to the nth degree, and keeping one’s destiny fluid, adaptable and dynamic, the difference between questioning rather than clinging to delusions is vital. Let’s break it down…

Avoid getting caught up in your delusions

“When emptiness is possible, everything is possible. Were emptiness impossible, nothing would be possible.” ~ Nagarjuna

There’s an old African proverb: “When Death finds you, may it find you alive.” This means alive without permission. Free and full, not tied down and empty. Living your own life rather than one scripted by society, religion or politics.

Yet, and here’s the rub, even “the ring” can become a script that becomes an ideology. Even symbols can become limiting and dogmatic. Especially if they were discovered on somebody else’s plunge.

Our cultures are chock full of symbols and “rings” that heroes of the past discovered on their own plunge into the unknown. It’s critical that you do not allow these discoveries to prevent you from taking your own plunge. That was their destiny not yours.

Scour them for information. Soak in the depths of their wisdom. Stand on the shoulders of giants. But don’t cling. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t allow their destiny to prevent your own. Rather, use their destiny to invigorate your own hero’s journey.

The art of living life to the nth degree hinges upon not getting caught up in delusions—whether yours or someone else’s. Every thought, every belief, every symbol, “ring,” or ideology discovered (dreamed up) by mankind is a delusion. The only thing that makes some delusions less delusional than others is questioning them rather than relying on them as answers.

Question your delusions instead

“Never relinquish your ability to doubt, reflect, and consider other options –your rationality as an individual is your only protection against the madness that can overcome a group.” ~ Robert Greene

When you question your delusions, you keep your destiny organic and fluid. You keep it flexible and adaptable. The journey is maintained and remains the thing. An examined life, lived to the nth degree, endures.

When you don’t question your delusions, however, your destiny becomes stagnant or it becomes someone else’s journey. The “answers” you’ve found become prison bars to your destiny.

You become stuck, entrenched in believing you’ve “made it” or that you’ve “become enlightened” or that your “way” is the way. In short: you have become dogmatic. You have neglected to “kill the Buddha on the path.”

Questioning your delusions is paramount. Not only because it directly keeps your destiny in perspective, but because it also indirectly keeps “the tribe” in check. Without someone (a hero) who can question their own delusions first, and their tribe’s delusions second, there can only be close mindedness and dogmatism.

It is vital for your destiny (and for the progressive evolution of our species) that you not only gain the courage of the hero, take the plunge, and discover a “ring,” but that you also question your discoveries along the way. Question the “answers.”

Question the “ring.” Self-overcome. Question everything, but especially the symbols and ideologies discovered along the way. And especially-especially the symbols and ideologies discovered by others—past or present.

Don’t get me wrong. Relish in your discoveries. Get drunk on the magic elixir. Have fun seeing how the “answers” fit into reality (or how they don’t fit). Stand on the shoulders of giants.

Enjoy the journey and all its delicious sojourns. Just continually question it. Don’t cling to it. Don’t get stuck. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Don’t let the Buddha, or anyone for that matter (especially yourself), convince you that you’ve “made it.”

Don’t forget: in order to live life to the nth degree you must question to the nth degree and allow the journey to be the thing.

Image source:

Taking the plunge
Surreal ring

Please share, it really helps! :) <3

Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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