The following is a transcript excerpt from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s conversation with Christopher Anthony Lundsford (stage name: Oliver Anthony) on the beauty of building a life with someone who shares a similar vision, and why it’s worth taking a leap of faith. You can listen to or watch the full podcast episode on DailyWire+.
Oliver Anthony: I’ve been watching your Exodus series, and I can find a parallel in that and your story, and it’s part of what’s inspired me to get back into Scripture the way I have because you’ve done a great job of finding the practicality in Scripture and presenting it in a way that it’s very easily understood because so much of the Bible is interpretation and trying to understand the deeper meaning and things. And so, yeah, this has been said many times in many ways, but it’s important for people to [do] whatever it is that really tugs at their heart strings — and, you know, maybe it’s lost through the education system — but, as a child, we all have these dreams of whatever it is we want to do and life seems so limitless and there’s so much potential. You’ve got to find a way to just face that fear and pursue it no matter what.
I have a song called “Hell on Earth” that I just kind of threw together. It’s an Android recording, but it sort of reminisces this idea. “A lot of people die and go to hell before they ever hit the ground” is one of the lines in the song. But it’s like people get stuck in this sort of monotonous work: Let me drive to work down the interstate and get pissed off and flip everybody off when they cut into my lane and go work this stupid job that I don’t like so I can come home to this stupid house that I don’t like so I can pay all these stupid bills that I don’t want to pay. And deep down inside of them, there is some sort of ambition or pursuit that maybe they’ve even forgotten about. But the subconscious has such a weird way of holding onto things that sometimes even our cognitive memory can’t recognize.
For me, I didn’t want to die not taking that chance. You know, time is very precious. It seems like we live for a long period of time, but really 80 or 90 years in the grand scheme of the world’s existence is just a blip on the map. You don’t know if you’ll even live to see tomorrow. So yeah, you do have to pursue whatever it is that you feel compelled to do in that moment when the time’s there.
Jordan B. Peterson: All right, so you have about ten cool things there. You mentioned Exodus. One of the things that happens in Exodus is that Moses is being a shepherd. He is off with his Midianite father-in-law, Jethro, and he married one of Jethro’s daughters, and he is away from Egypt. He is just minding his own business. That is when he is wandering down the pathway by Mount Horeb, which is the center of the world. It is Jacob’s Ladder. It is the place where Jack would plant his beanstalk that stretches to heaven. That symbol is reused consistently in the Bible.
That is when he notices something off to the side that glimmers and glitters. That is the burning bush, and he could continue just walking down the path as a relatively satisfied shepherd — or maybe dissatisfied — shepherd, but he decides to go investigate this thing that attracts his attention. That is the key aspect of the story. He decides to go investigate what attracts his attention, and as he gets closer to it, he understands that he is on sacred ground. When he continues his pursuit, God himself speaks to him. That is when Moses becomes the leader. That is the story of life.
You said people are all tangled up in the nine-to-five and they are not paying any attention to anything but immediate practicalities, even though they are dissatisfied with them, and they are ignoring what is calling to them. Moses does not do that. Then he develops a vision, and that is the vision of the Promised Land. Everyone needs a vision of the Promised Land because, as we already said, that protects them from anxiety and gives them hope.
Then you talked about what you did with your wife. Now, this is particularly interesting to me because I used to play house with my wife when I was like eight, and this is how kids play house. If you are a boy and you are playing house with a girl, to play house properly, these are the rules: You have to come up with a vision that you offer the girl or she has to do the same to you. They have to say, “Look, here is the house.” You can maybe sketch it out on the ground or pretend this playground structure is the house, and there is the door and there are the rooms and you be the mom and I will be the dad. Here is what we are going to play out happening. The girl has to say, “Yes, I am on board with that,” and then you enter the same fictional landscape.
You said and you noticed you have to do the same thing with your wife. It is exactly the same damn thing. Once you develop a vision for yourself, let’s say, in your imagination, that is what calls to you; it is based on what you really want. You have to develop that vision. Then you have to say to her, “Look, here is what I see five years down the road.” Is there a manner in which what you see and what you envision — and that was, say, your wife’s concern for animals, that joint interest you had — is there some way that you have a vision of give years down the road that we could bring together, that we would both be thrilled to play out, that we could commit to? That visionary practice has to extend within the marriage. Then you get to play house. That is a hell of a lot better than beating each other up and, you know, using force and compulsion.
Those are the options, as far as I can tell: It is slavery, tyranny, or negotiation. If you negotiate in a visionary way, then you get to play. If you get to play, then you are not in that hell on earth that you described. You are as close to the opposite as you can get. So you obviously managed that successfully, I presume. What does your wife think about the way this decision is unfolding?
Oliver Anthony: Well, in the present moment, she is very excited. Neither one of us had any idea that any of this would happen the way it did with the music, but we’re excited. The last few weeks have been so difficult to interpret anything because she is pregnant now with my first son. I’ve got two daughters and so this will be my first boy. So the last couple of weeks have been spent more trying to figure out what we’re going to name the little rascal than anything else. But our vision, I think for the next 20 or 30 years, is very similar in what we want to do. We want to make sure that our children are brought up in a way that they get to experience nature and get to sort of have some of the imaginative, and like you said, even just some of the playful nature that children have. We want to do what we can to try to protect them from being so institutionalized at an early age — sort of the system that you describe and the way modern education works — and we want them to be able to pursue whatever. We’re very excited about the opportunities with our children and with our family.
We have this vision. I don’t know exactly how it’ll work out. There’s a model very similar that Robert Kennedy Jr. describes called the Healing Center. I think we want to incorporate animals into it as well, but we want to use our property. Maybe we even try to purchase another piece of property just through this nonprofit. But I have this vision of creating a model that can be replicated that involves regenerative agriculture [for] people that are suffering with PTSD and people that are just getting out of rehab. There are studies that show that hard work in general helps anxiety and depression [plus] being out in nature doing it. I think there’s a place over in Italy that does this, that takes kids in that have depression, anxiety, and suicidal thought and [they work] on this vineyard for a period of time, and it’s got a very high success rate.
We have a vision of trying to take whatever has been produced from this, and we want to sort of light a fire that will hopefully light other fires and this can become something a lot bigger than just what she and I want to do with our world. We both are very like-minded in that bigger vision. And it did take some time. You know, it’s very difficult for anyone in today’s society, including me. I mean, I’m just like anybody else. But sometimes it’s hard to — how would I say it? — it’s hard to take away the immediate gratification of whatever world you’re living in now and those comforts and being able to somehow put those to the side for something that doesn’t even exist. It’s a terrifying thing to make that leap. But you know, there’s no going back.
Jordan B. Peterson: Well, it is a leap of faith. First of all, you have to have faith to do anything because you cannot do anything unless you have faith in it. So maybe you have faith in your nine to five routine and you think that is the best that there is. And that is faith, too, because like you said, you might be run over by a bus tomorrow and who the hell knows what is going to happen? You are going to put your faith somewhere. Then the question is, where should you put your faith? One answer to that is security or hypothetical security. But that seems to me to be stupid because there is no security. So if there is no security, then where do you put your faith? I would say, well, you put your faith in what beckons, and music beckons to people and beauty beckons to people — and art and justice and truth, these eternal verities. The path of heroism beckons. These things call, and that is the burning bush. You have to put your faith in something because you are ignorant and you do not know everything. So you have to take a leap.
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Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a clinical psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant and then associate professor of psychology at Harvard. He is the international bestselling author of Maps of Meaning, 12 Rules For Life, and Beyond Order. You can now listen to or watch his popular lectures on DailyWire+.