Jay Schryer Rotating Header Image

To Tend The Soul of the World

forest photo by tata_aka_T

I recently began my studies as a PhD student at Pacifica Graduate Institute. I’m earning my PhD in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. In many ways, this program seems like it was custom-made just for me. It combines my childhood love of mythology, my fascination with other cultures and religions, and my all-consuming effort to better understand myself. It seems like the perfect storm of awesomeness to me.

Yeah, but what are you gonna do with it?

Almost from the very beginning, people have failed to see the awesomeness. When you tell people that you’re going back to school to get your PhD, the initial reaction is almost always incredibly positive. “Wow! Congratulations! What are you going to study?” Then you tell them “mythology”…and you watch their enthusiasm fade into (at best) carefully-measured neutrality or (at worst) incredible disdain. Mythology…that’s not practical…that’s not wise. People look at me fearfully and ask: “What do you want to do with that?” It’s not an uncommon question, as all of my fellow students will tell you that they, too, have heard that question hundreds of times. Nor is it completely unmerited. It’s fear-based, certainly…but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

Thankfully, I am finally (after 38 years on this planet) moving into a place in my life where the opinions of others don’t matter as much to me anymore, and so I was able to meet the resistance with a comfortable…

I don’t know. It’s just something I want to do, and it *feels* right.”

However, a week before the program started, I started having some serious doubts myself. It’s a lot of debt. There’s no job market. It’s a lot of hard work. People will laugh at me. People will make fun of me. I should be more practical. I should be more wise. There are better things that I could spend the money on. I can’t afford it. It’s not going to teach me anything I don’t already know. It’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of energy. It won’t help me do anything……..

Stop. Just stop. Release fear…doubt….insecurity…negativity.

Center. Close your eyes. Focus. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. In……..out.

Why am I doing this?

‘Why’ is a question the head asks that the heart has no answer for. The heart wants what the heart wants. Period.

As I opened my eyes, I saw the course catalog from the school. I opened it up, and saw the school motto:

animae mundi colendae gratia

It means: “For the sake of tending the soul of the world.”

Why am I doing this?

To tend to the soul of the world.

Love Always,

Jay

10 Comments

  1. Lance says:

    Jay,
    And with our limited time here on earth (as far as I know, anyway) – how are we choosing to LIVE that life?

    Maybe it’s not practical, maybe lots of people will question what you’re doing, maybe the prospects after finishing this up are all that clear. It’s in your soul, though, my friend. And I think it is so, so cool that YOU are DOING this!! You are actively choosing to LIVE! Your life!

    May this experience be one that continues to bring you alive in new and meaningful ways…

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, Lance! That was a huge part of the decision…thinking about how I wanted to LIVE (as you put it!). Did I want to be the person who “almost” went to grad school in pursuit of something I loved, or did I want to be the person who actually did it? I chose to be a “do-er” :)

  2. Keith says:

    Jay,

    Lance is right. The life you are living is YOUR life! Who decides what is right for you and who knows that better than ANYONE? YOU DO!

    Check out a couple definitions for the word “Practical” : 1) Capable of or suitable to being used or put into effect; useful 2) Concerned with the production or operation of something useful

    WOW! I’d say, after reading those definitions, that Jay is indeed studying the right stuff! First, you are following your heart which is the most important thing. Secondly, that your study of mythology will be very useful in your fantasy writing is obvious. This course of study also puts you in some very good company. Ever hear of Joseph Campbell? Hmm? Huh? Yep, I thought so. Mr. Campbell spent his life studying such things, and in showing it’s relevance to the human condition.

    Jay, my friend, you are on the right path and it seems you know you are. So live it up and live it loud. You have more guts and brains than most people I know!

    By the way…I LOVE YOUR SITE! I can’t believe I haven’t been here yet!! Awesome man!!!

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thanks, Keith! I really appreciate your words of support and encouragement. I like those definitions…I had never thought about it that way before.

      And yes, I’ve heard about Joseph Campbell, lol. He was one of my scholarly idols growing up. This program that I am in is based heavily on his work. He was one of the founding fathers of the school I’m attending. He used to lecture here before he died. The campus library holds his personal collection…his writings and his favorite books. Joseph Campbell was one of the main reasons I picked *this* program at *this* school. :)

      I’m glad you love the site! Hopefully (once I get used to my class load), I’ll be able to update it more frequently than I do now, but I really enjoy having a place to showcase my fiction writing!

  3. Tim says:

    Hi Jay:

    Good to read your update…I can relate. No I’m not getting another degree right now. But I know I’m at one of those points in my life and career where every decision feels big. Every decision will be filled with others – friends, family and sometimes even myself – questioning why? Are you crazy? That doesn’t make sense. I guess that’s the beauty about life. There will always be plenty of people giving you their opinion– and hopefully some giving their support. But all we can really do is follow our hearts.

    Kudos to you for making a tough decision and following your heart and passions!

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thanks, Tim! Kudos to you as well. I know that you’ve had a tough year this year, and it has already been full of difficult decisions. It sounds like more are on the way, but I know that you’ll work through them. It’s not always easy, leading a heart-centered life, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Thanks for being a part of the journey!

  4. Pagan Chaplain says:

    Personally, I feel better knowing there are those who tend the soul of the world. Much gratitude to you and your classmates. And to Pacifica Graduate Institute and the memory of Joseph Campbell.

    Jay: Follow your bliss!

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, PC! Someday, I hope to follow in your footsteps and tend to individual souls, but tending the soul of the world is equally important. A friend of mine once said “Tending the Soul of the World is empty without connecting to other souls on the pathway.” It’s a powerful reminder that we’re all in this together, and we should all work together to make this world (and our journeys through it) as loving and compassionate as possible.

  5. Jay, congratulations on following your soul, this is so lovely to see. My reaction when you first told me this was ‘wow cool!!! mythology!!!’ Something I love myself, and would love to study more. I mean, myth is the way we make meaning in the world, express dimensions and truths that can’t be touched any other way, it is the core of culture and yes our collective soul! I can’t wait to see what you do with it (although for now, just dive in, I’m sure it will come to you.) Love and Light, Lisa

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thanks, Lisa! You’re absolutely right: Myth is the way we express truths that can’t be touched in any other way. That’s one of the things that I really love about this program. It studies that connection in depth, and provides a deeper understanding of how we use myth to tell stories that are universal to all of us. I love how the same stories are told in different cultures and different times. The names and places are changed, but the overall structure of the story remains the same. It’s a really fascinating insight into the human experience.

      I definitely think you would love this program. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as time goes by. I’m so thankful that you’re accompanying me on this hero’s journey! :)