The Inner Journey for an Outer World
It came from the east. A virus that changed the world. The mental health, especially of Gen Z and Millennials, was precarious at best. With lockdowns and a society transformed, a mental health and wellness shift was needed. We needed something more than apps, sayings, and hashtags. We needed something that resonated. Something that spoke to the individual among us, not just the face in the crowd.
We needed the YouTopian Journey.
The YouTopian Journey is more than just a newsletter and more than a graphic novel. It is an inner journey for an outer world. A mindset guide for a mindset shift that not only entertains, but benefits the reader.
It launched in February of 2021 on Substack with almost one-hundred issues produced to date. The art continues to be created in preparation for launching the first issue comic of the graphic novel.
My name is Shaun Gold. As a polymathic super-connector (which is a fancy term for someone who has lot of interests and who takes action), I was inspired to use my time in the lockdown to create something that could be beneficial to society. I wanted to do something different, something that clicked with readers, something that was uniquely my own. More importantly, I wanted to create something that could be useful…truly useful to inspiring and motivating readers to become mentally stronger. This is why YouTopian Journey was created, because before there was nothing like it.
Before I started YouTopian Journey, I had a variety of roles. I worked with startups in every non-technical capacity one could imagine, wrote multiple books, appeared on the game show Jeopardy, was involved in promoting and marketing some of the highest grossing nightclubs in the world (which in turn provided me a street education in psychology and philosophy) and wrote multiple screenplays. As a result of my unique background I am an invited guest lecturer at universities across the United States (everywhere from Georgetown to University of Miami, my alma mater) on a variety of topics ranging from entrepreneurship to consumer behavior.
As an avid reader, my knowledge from YouTopian Journey stems from some of my favorite books. This includes Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, Courage to Create by Rollo May, Man’ Search for Himself by Rollo May, Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, Letters from a Stoic by Seneca, Dokkōdō by Miyamoto Musashi, and more.
This led me to realize that knowledge in our society was lacking. Not just general knowledge that formed the backbone of our society, but knowledge of philosophy, psychology, and history. This is the knowledge that determines how we live, and more importantly, how we die.
Additionally, we are losing our key values that as a species, are required.
Fortitude, inner strength, personal meaning and purpose, mental wellness and endurance, kindness, and confidence. It is hard to have a strong mind when everyone around you appears to have lost theirs. It is even harder to build up your soul while everyone else is selling theirs to the highest bidder. A shift has happened and has taken our population to the abyss, where just a little push could be fatal. I wanted to solve this problem.
I wanted to create a brand that dealt with high concepts and bring them to the masses in the form of a graphic novel and associated writings. I wanted to develop a following, so my plan for YouTopian Journey was twofold. First, create the graphic art itself and overall story. Second, create a Substack newsletter to begin helping readers as soon as possible.
I teamed up with Fernando Melek who I worked with on my storyboard concepts for my original screenplays to do the art. As he is a professional comic book artist, he was intrigued by such a unique idea and quickly signed on.
Developing the script was a fast and fun process, as the art can communicate a variety of feelings that people face each and everyday. I wanted to use the art to demonstrate a variety of different threats, especially the threat to the individuality of the main character (as it appears that everyday we lose the greatest part of ourselves to conform to others).
The overall story follows the heroic journey that is demonstrated in the variety of myths and modern Hollywood blockbusters. But unlike heroic journeys of fighting Gods and saving the world, the YouTopian Journey is about becoming a hero to save yourself.
Why is this important?
Because as Samuel Beckett once remarked, “you’re on Earth, there is no cure for that.” The German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote that “our planet is the mental institution of the universe.” We need to aim to be heroic in everything we do. Yet this is difficult as we lack heroes. We have become so lackluster and feeble that we don’t believe the heroic is capable, especially for ourselves. And why should we?
Our leaders aren’t heroes. Our managers and bosses at work are the antithesis of the heroic ideal. Yet we need to be heroic. It is in the DNA of our species.
The material from YouTopian Journey comes from the great books and the great thinkers of history.
For example, the concept of a YouTopian is heavily influenced by Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch from Thus Spoke Zarathustra. People often misinterpret Nietzsche due to his works being associated with the Nazi regime, yet this was the opposite of what he stood for. In fact, it was his sister who hijacked his writings and morphed them for her own goals.
Other material for YouTopian Journey comes from a variety of concepts that I see in plain sight but few will admit to. Conformity, group think, submission to the herd mentality, dwindling courage, control of our minds by social media and technological devices, an inability to take action, fear, anxiety, the loss of the self, the validation vortex (where our actions need to be validated by social media to have any personal meaning), the manifestation maelstrom (where magical thinking serves to obliterate the reality of the situation), alienation, lacking purpose and meaning, the desire for safety over growth, and the wasting away of our time.
And speaking of time, the Chronophage (the time eater) is our first major villain. I wanted to create something terrifying to make readers use their time and live their lives with a sense of urgency, not waste it on frivolous matters.
The Chronophage is a constant threat. We live our lives as if we have unlimited days and infinite chances. The truth is that we don’t. Far too many people are only living for their next vacation, their next career accolade, and their next paycheck.
We need to not only live in the present moment, but use it. Abraham Maslow once wrote that “the ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” My hope is that the Chronophage motivates people to use time wisely and fulfill their potentialities with the time they have.
I often use quotes from significant historical figures and thinkers to illustrate the key points. Writings from Christian Saints (such as St. Augustine) to beatnik poets (Charles Bukowski) are utilized and no one is off the table if I find their knowledge beneficial to the reader. Sometimes a simple quote can
change someone’s life for the better so I often use several in each and every issue. It is my hope that the quotes inspire, the art stirs something deep within the reader, and that eventually lives are changed for the better.
For over the past year, the YouTopian Journey has been having a positive effect on thousands of people around the world. It gives me great joy to receive emails, tweets and comments that showcase the results of my efforts. I hope you subscribe and the lessons have a positive effect on you and your mental health and wellness. Furthermore, I hope it allows you to go after your goals and live…truly live as you walk your own YouTopian Journey.
“A great man is one who affects the mind of his generation.”Benjamin Disraeli
You can subscribe for free to YouTopian Journey here.