Valid Targets and the Muse

In 2001, when I lived in Tracy, California, I attended the tri-stake institute in Stockton, or maybe it was Manteca. The teacher was Pres. Anderson, an amazing CES instructor. (He was transferred out to Utah shortly after I left Tracy… Do any of you know what happened to him, or what he’s up to now?)

Pres. Anderson started  his lesson on the celestial kingdom with these words written on the chalkboard:

Two pedigreed Siamese kittens — Cost: $100

Is that a great deal? I don’t know how much Siamese kittens normally cost, but apparently it’s more than $100 a pair. He asked the class who would buy the kittens (with the caveat that you couldn’t purchase them just to re-sell them). The cat lovers raised their hands, and the rest of us abstained. His point was that the value of any deal is dependent on our tastes. $50 for a pedigreed kitten is only a great deal if you’re the kind of person who would like to have a pedigreed kitten.

He went on to draw a parallel between the kittens and the celestial kingdom, but I want to take the object lesson in another direction. If you consider that we each have one life to spend, what kind of “deal” would you like to get for your life?

  1. Scientific genius; nobel prize winner; contributor to the human understanding of the universe — Cost: One life
  2. Great parent; loved by spouse; raised successful, happy children — Cost: One life
  3. Celebrity star; inspiring to millions and adored by fans around the world — Cost: One life
  4. Peaceful heart; at one with the world; frequent visitor to secluded groves and mountain trails — Cost: One life
  5. Business management guru; transformed an unknown company into a global corporation, providing useful goods and services to billions — Cost: One life
  6. Misunderstood artistic visionary; created avant garde works that won’t be appreciated until decades after your death — Cost: One life
  7. Popular novelist; wrote entertaining fare that provided an escape for teenagers and SAHMs everywhere — Cost: One life
  8. Reliable employee; trustworthy, “gets the job done” kind of guy who stays out of the limelight — Cost: One life
  9. Failed dreamseeker; gambled everything in pursuit of your passions and lost it all, but at least you tried — Cost: One life
  10. The friendly neighbor; organized great barbecues and block parties; your home was always open to the kids in the neighborhood — Cost: One life
  11. Artisan extraordinaire; skilled with tools; created functional workmanship in wood, clay, or other media — Cost: One life
  12. Expert mechanic; can fix anything; the first person people call when their car stops working — Cost: One life
  13. Somewhat-well-known blogger; provided entertaining and insightful commentary on life — Cost: One life

What works are worthy of your life? These are your “valid” life choices — valid in the sense that they validate your life to you; they are in line with your values. Your valid targets include the items in the list above that make you say, “I would be satisfied if that were all that could be said of me when I die.” Your invalid targets are the ones that make you say, “What a sad waste my life would have been if that’s all that I amount to.”


This concept of “valid” life targets is at the heart of what I’ve been trying to communicate with my “forms of agency” posts (here and here). Each archetype will have different answers as to what constitutes a valid life. In fact, those differences are what define the archetypes.

In my previous posts I looked at the Knight and Healer archetypes. To give a quick introduction to the Muse archetype, I would say that a Muse might consider #3, #6, #7, #9, or #13 in the list above to be valid targets (as opposed to the Knight, who would validate #3, #5, #7, and #10, or the Healer who would validate #2, #4, #10, and #12). The Muse values exposure, creativity, and expression as valid uses for human life.

But for this post, I’m mostly interested in hearing about your own perceptions of valid life targets. Which items in the list would you validate? Which are invalid for you? And what would you add to the list?

14 comments for “Valid Targets and the Muse

  1. PL
    July 10, 2011 at 6:06 am

    I believe the cost of “one life” is the same for all people who ever were born on earth and who will still be born here. The cost for each person’s life was paid by Jesus that one day on the cross — Jesus paid the price once that day on the cross for all.

    Hebrews 9:23-28
    Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared ONCE FOR ALL AT THE END OF THE AGES TO PUT AWAY SIN BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF. And just as it is appointed for man to dies once, and after that comes judgment, so CHRIST, HAVING OFFERED ONCE TO BEAR THE SINS OF MANY, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

  2. Jax
    July 10, 2011 at 7:26 am

    14. Saint – made many mistakes/sins early in life, but developed a pattern of repentance that allowed him to remove all sin from his life, one at a time. The later years were marked by peace of mind. Was not sinless, but achieved perfection.

  3. Dane Laverty
    July 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

    PL, that’s inspiring. However, my question isn’t what you want Christ to make of your life, but what you hope to make of your own life. As I understand the atonement, accepting salvation through Christ doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to make good use of the life God has given us. However, what it means to “make good use of” your life is a question that only you can answer.

    Jax, nice addition to the list.

  4. PL
    July 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Dane Laverty said, “But for this post, I’m mostly interested in hearing about your own perceptions of valid life targets. Which items in the list would you validate? Which are invalid for you? And what would you add to the list?”

    Since I believe that the “cost” of each human life is the price Jesus paid that day 2,000 years ago on the cross, I should add to my comments in (1) above my “life target”.

    My life target is to follow Jesus. Since Jesus taught that the two most important commandments in all the Law and the Prophets is to (1) Love God & (2) Love my neighbor as myself, then I need to do what Jesus said was most important. I want to learn how to “love my neighbor” the way Jesus taught us to do in the Sermon on the Mount and parables he taught. That is my focus, my target. After all, Jesus said there was nothing, nothing more important than the 1st & 2nd Commandments.

  5. PL
    July 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Dane, Thanks for you question in (3) to me — after I had first posted, I realized I hadn’t answered what you asked. So I added (4). Just after I submitted my comment in (4), I saw yours there in (3) to me and also to Jax. Thanks. PL

  6. July 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Mine is a combination of 2, 4 and 10. 1, 8 and 11 are pale seconds. The rest don’t interest me significantly.

    I decided some time ago that if only one thing could be said about me, it would be that I sincerely loved the Lord by seeking to serve His children.

    Not doing so well at that yet, but hopefully another few decades will be able to get it through my thick skull.

  7. Jax
    July 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    15. Philanphopist – was not wealthy, but if one was in need, and he/she could meet that need, then aid was always given. Learned to live the celestial law of equality in an unequal world. Cost = one life.

  8. Dane Laverty
    July 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    PL, thanks for the expanded explanation.

    SilverRain, I think mine would be 1, 2, 4, 6, and 9.

    Jax, isn’t being wealthy part of being a philanthropist?

  9. Jax
    July 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm


    By worldly definitions philanthropist might not work, but I needed a word to describe charitable giving, and it seemed to fit. But I also don’t like only considering rich people giving of their surplus to be the worthy goal. Much more inspiring to me is the poor who give from their meagerness to the even poorer. Making an actual sacrifice to your standard of living in order to improve the situation of another is a valid life goal to me, not just parting with unnoticed excess.

    Do you have another word you’d like to recommend instead?

  10. Jax
    July 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    For me the valid choices are:
    1 – Genius in all fields, not just science.
    2 – Parenthood
    4 – Peace of heart – without which even fame, fortune, and power are not satisfactory
    10 – Friendly neighbor

    and of course the 2 I added.

  11. July 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Ok, I have a hard time how anyone could pick anything but 2 — Great parent; loved by spouse; raised successful, happy children.

    I could still do any of the others (except for #5). What would the point be if I had to give up #2?

    I try to work #10 in (I and my wife work on that), I’m even the guy bringing treats (cookies, fresh rolls, sweet breads, etc.) to high priests’ group.

    Maybe I’ll hit some of #4 when we retire, if we get close to a place like that ;)

    But otherwise, I’ve already passed on a number of things when they conflicted with #2. Still am. I could be blogging, but I’m logging off to tuck a child in for sleep.

  12. July 11, 2011 at 7:09 am

    All choices are valid, I guess.
    Fortunately, they are not exclusive.

  13. July 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Jax, nope, I guess “philanthropist” works as well as any other word.

    Stephen, if I take what you’re saying literally, the only valid path in life is to be a parent. Does that mean you believe a life without children isn’t worth living? How do you square that with the millions of single or infertile or just plain choose-to-not-have-kids people out there?

    grego, I don’t think that all choices are valid. I didn’t include options like “serial killer” or “bank robber” on my list, but I would guess you wouldn’t consider those to be valid options.

  14. July 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Dane, I’m saying among the choices, I don’t see the others, at least for me.

    For those who can not have children, it is as sad as those who have had to bury them. It is not as if they had a choice. At least for those who have buried children, they would prefer to not have had to go through that.

    For those who choose other things, deciding that they would rather not seek marriage or children or family, but would rather chase money, or status or art, well, I guess I rather know more than I wish of “Failed dreamseeker; gambled everything in pursuit of your passions and lost it all, but at least you tried” and I see that sort of thing as empty.

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