Whoever you are, wherever you were born, you grew up in a world populated by people who saw themselves, and saw you in a very particular way. This image of you was likely reinforced by stories and monuments to a great past from which you were expected to extrapolate your own path. If you were born into a lineage of doctors, it would be much easier to model yourself as a doctor and find the social infrastructure to support you. The same applies if you were born into a lineage of carpenters or lawyers, and so forth. This is how caste systems function. The reward for obedience to caste expectations was the security that came from social support and validation — never mind that this came at the expense of one’s own expectations of themselves.
Those who chose to live outside their designated caste became ‘out-castes’. That is, they lived without the benefit of supporting social infrastructure. This is the innovator’s curse. She is like a great composer who is born into a society that has no musical instruments. In trying to do something original, she is challenging society’s expectations of her and will face resistance.
Until the day that she can demonstrate to her skeptical society that there is any value in her vision, she is on her own. She can expect alienation, ostracism and in extreme cases, imprisonment and death. She risks losing everything in the struggle against the cultural ‘immune system’, only to be appreciated by the unborn. Her sole reward is the quiet discovery of a deeper identity that does not depend upon external validation for its existence. In the words of the legendary athlete and activist Muhammad Ali, “you don’t wait for the world to recognize your greatness. You live it, and let the world catch up to you.”
The Art of Unlearning is an innovator’s manual. A guidebook for that rare human being who wishes to go beyond the resistance of the outside world and even their own mind and body in order to realize their innate potential. Their birthright. The Art of Unlearning is not for everybody, because not everybody is prepared to confront the resistance that holds us back from our innate potential. This resistance takes three forms:
- Survival Anxiety — the fear of starvation and death
- Status Anxiety — the fear of shame and exile
- Belief Systems — the fear of losing what we know (or think we know)
The book explores these forms of resistance in three stories spread across three chapters:
- Chapter 1 — The story of Belly the Hungry Reptile
- Chapter 2 — The story of King Ego, and
- Chapter 3 — The Story of Lula, the Lady of Logic
To be able to name and recognize an enemy is a vital first step to devising countermeasures to it. As a writer and creator, I have faced unbelievable resistance over the course of my career. Some days worse than others. I am intimately familiar with rejection, crippling self-doubt and rumination over the ever present prospect of failure. I know what it means to hide one’s struggle for fear of being dismissed as weak and undeserving of care. A cautionary tale to other ‘wayward millennials.’
Yet in spite of this, with the love and encouragement of those closest to me, I was able to create a 130 page graphic novel that I consider to be the most important work of my life. I created The Art of Unlearning so that any other creator who faces the beast of resistance can emerge triumphant and shine their light for all who create after them to see.