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Walking Each Other Home: A Meditation on Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Third Rule
Make Friends With People Who Want The Best For You
I have been informed that the fact that I “simp” for Dr. Peterson is extremely “cringe.” As a middle-aged single mum with a B. A. in English whose only knowledge of modern slang comes from my mouthy eight-year-old, I believe I’ve earned the right to be a little “cringe.” But I “simp” because I have made friends with people who want the best for me, and I for them.
My life has been made immeasurably richer from close acquaintance with Dr. Peterson’s character and his work.
I am not an “adoring fan;” I am a fellow pilgrim and kindred spirit, an unmet friend. I do not place Dr. Peterson on a pedestal. Through his lectures, his podcasts, and his books, he has become a dear traveling companion to me, stumbling uphill just ahead of me, and holding out a hand to help me scramble up. Ram Dass says it best: we’re all just walking each other home.
Although I have only been listening to Dr. Peterson’s lectures and interviews for the past year, I have been aware of him and his work and influence for some years. My friend Mike Moore, my writing and podcast buddy from Ontario, introduced me to Dr. Peterson’s work back in 2013. But at that time in my life, I wasn’t ready for Dr. Peterson. I had had a lifetime in a Christian fundamentalist cult of listening to male voices teaching and preaching, and I needed to listen to other voices for a while.
Fast forward nearly ten years to a joyous reunion with a dear friend from childhood. I won’t mention her by name, but my friend began to share with me wisdom she had learned from listening to Dr. Peterson’s lectures, and confided that the words of truth therein had helped her profoundly. I love my friend beyond words and past all expression, and am so thankful for her presence in my life. To hear that Dr. Peterson’s words had so affected someone I cherish was, once again, not something to be taken lightly.
Picture it: Christmas 2021. My friend came over for Christmas dinner, and we sat down to watch an interview between Dr. Peterson, his daughter Mikhaila, and Africa Brooke. This interview was life changing for me, and I do not use that expression lightly. As I watched, I felt that everything I had been grappling with, concerned about, and second-guessing my own perceptions about were being discussed by people obviously farther along upon the educational and intellectual journey than I am. So many things I had known implicitly but not known how I knew were being expressed.
The Jordan Peterson I had been told about, the image I had of him in my head, was completely destroyed by the real Jordan Peterson as he revealed himself in that interview. I saw a humble, gentle, wise, hysterically funny, and fatherly man, who was profoundly intellectual but who was overcome by emotion at Africa’s expression of appreciation and love toward him. I have been saying for years that we need a role model of a man who can weep openly and without shame out of an overflowing heart, and lo, here in the man I did not want to listen to was the very role model I had been praying for.
I am very, very, very careful whom I let into my heart. And I was very, very, very careful to get to know Dr. Peterson before I let his words take root in my heart. I made myself a student, not only of his words, but of his character. I watched his interactions with his wife, his children, his folks. I watched his interactions with journalists who were trying to take him out, with old friends who knew him intimately, with acquaintances whom he had admiration for, with his students, his colleagues, and his opponents. Everything that I saw told me that this was a man of good character.
I saw him show up for interview after interview during a dark time in his life when his wife was under the sentence of death; even though he was trembling on the verge of tears for every one of those interviews, he still showed up and spoke what was in his heart. Then I went on to the videos he made after his own desperate illness. I saw him show up, time after time, even when his pain was so awful he could barely get his breath, barely get his thoughts together, but he showed up, and shared what was in his heart. That spoke volumes to me about his character.
Why did I invest so much time and emotional energy in learning about this soft-spoken, eccentric, gruff on the outside and marshmallow on the inside psychologist Professor public speaker writer? Because when I “met” him, I was in a dark place. I had a vision for my life, I knew what my calling in life was. I’m called to be a writer, a teacher, and a mother, and I was working toward all of that. But I was so tired and discouraged. I had lost faith and lost hope in my life work. Didn’t think I would ever get anywhere with it. And his words rekindled the inner light in my heart. He taught me that story, archetype, and hero’s journey, matters. He taught me that the burdens I have upon my heart for men and men’s issues matter. He taught me that my work as a mother matters. His words fanned the flames in my heart that had died down to embers, and made them leap again.
Cringe all you like, dear reader, but no one can denigrate Dr. Peterson to me. And if that makes me a simp, well, may as well have the game as the name. This series of essays on the Twelve Rules is my way of trying, in some small way, to thank the man who encouraged me to write against Hell, and for Heaven.
Author’s Note: If you have enjoyed this essay, look for the continuation of my meditations on the Twelve Rules.
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