Jason, Orpheus, the Troggs, and LBJ
Updated: Dec 21, 2018
Funny how the mind works.
I spent the last two weeks moving from our home for the last 20+ years in Florida back to our native Northern Virginia (note the caps . . . Northern Virginia is very different from Virginia—it’s almost its own state).
Because I’ve been puttering around a lot—moving furniture, painting, fixing loose things here and there, I’ve had a lot of mindless time to think about a lot of things. Here’s one odd chain of thoughts that wormed its way through my mind and got me to the subject for today’s blog: Jason and the Argonauts.
I heard the song “Wild Thing” on an oldies station and it got me thinking. The song, of course, was by the English rock group the Troggs. Next thought: I saw the Troggs in concert one night, along with three other groups: Beacon Street Union, Orpheus, and the big draw of the night, The Who. Next thought: It was March 31, 1968. I remember the date is because after the Troggs finished and before the Who took the stage, a local DJ came out and announced that President Johnson had gone on T.V. to say he would not run for reelection. That made the final act –even the amazing Who—a little anticlimactic.
Next thought: the connection was not about The Who, nor President Johnson, nor even about the Troggs, but about Orpheus, one of the warm-up bands. Orpheus (still wobbling around the oldies circuit to this day) was named after the son of Calliope and was reputed to be the greatest musician of the ancient world. Fortunately, he was also a shipmate of Jason and the Argonauts on their epic voyage.
Next thought: as in Odysseus’ fabled adventure, Jason and his companions sailed near the island where the Sirens sang, luring unwary sailors to their doom with their “siren songs.”
As we discussed in an earlier blog, Odysseus’ method of dealing with the temptation was to have his men fill their ears with wax while they strapped him to the mast. Jason had a different strategy to deal with the Sirens’ temptation.
He had Orpheus play an even more beautiful tune to distract fellow sailors away from the “siren song” of the wicked temptresses. As with Odysseus, the ploy worked and Jason and his men were saved, thus demonstrating another strategy for dealing with temptation: “The expulsive power of a greater affection.”
Odysseus, if you will remember, dealt with anticipated temptation by binding himself in a way that prevented him from yielding, he planned ahead and enlisted friends. In modern sex-addiction parlance, he put blocking software on his computer, he had accountability partners, he structured himself for success.
Jason, on the other hand, relied on another method, placing before his eyes and his mind a “greater affection,” a higher priority, a grander good. In addiction practice this would mean placing pictures of your family in your line of sight, putting reminders of the cost of past failures in your daily computer calendar, reading and re-reading your “letter to self,” reminding yourself that there are no victimless sins—every breach of trust hurts most those we love most, etc.
Either strategy will work, and there are times in our lives when we will need to employ each—or both! Just as Odysseus chose his friends well and gave them permission to hold him accountable, I encourage you to choose your Orpheus wisely and well. Decide what is most valuable and truly beautiful to you, and find ways to place these people and things front and center in your life. Let their beauty and significance drown out the siren song of temptation.