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The Social Artist's Way

With the world changing at the speed of mouse clicks, there is a call for a new kind of leader: mystic visionary of mythic proportions. Using life as her teacher, Jean Houston, a philosopher and an expert in human development, is now working with the United Nations Development Program to groom the next generation of what she calls social artists.

This article appeared in our December 2004 issue.Imagine that it’s the 1940s and you’re a five-year-old wandering the vast sound stages at MGM in the most glorious days of Hollywood. Your dad’s writing to jokes for Bob Hope in one of the great Road movies, so he’s busy and you’ve got free rein. For a kid like you, this is better than a chocolate factory. The studio is cranking out almost a movie a day, so the scenes change almost as fast as a mouse clicks. There’s a Western town, an Indian village, a World War II fighter base, a pharaoh’s tomb, a Roman forum, a Manhattan penthouse. Deserts and jungles are doors apart. In the commissary, everyone comes together in character like a real-life chat room. A cowboy, an Indian, a fighter pilot, and a pharaoh hunker down over burgers while people like your dad figure out what they will do next. Your mom has a master’s degree in economics and is a successful banker, but her real passion is theater. She has played Hedda Gabler Off-Broadway, and studied method acting with Maria Ouspenskaya, the grand Russian who was Stanislavsky’s leading lady. Nowadays, whenev …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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