Safe to say I am mildly obsessed with Ganesh, the famous Hindu elephant boy god.
Even if you don’t know anything about this odd creature or what he represents, you likely know who I’m talking about. The iconic youngster’s unmistakeable visage is ubiquitous these days — adorning yoga studios, hanging around people’s homes, emblazoned on t-shirts and even splayed across brick wall street art in hipster neighborhoods across America.
But how does this have anything to do with this week’s guest?
Patience. I’ll bring it around. I always do.
The thumbnail fable of Ganesh goes something like this: young boy warrior fiercely devoted to his beloved mother Parvati meets his match in Parvati’s abusive husband Shiva. Defending Parvati from Shiva’s angry rage late one night while Parvati bathed, Shiva up and just decapitates the young boy. Cut his head straight off!
Inconsolable and furious, Parvati is determined to bring her boy back to life. Towards this end, she strikes a deal with Shiva that (inexplicably) involves replacing Ganesh’s missing head with that of a young elephant (again, don’t ask me how this works, it just does). Rejoice! It works. Not only does Ganesh return to life, he ascends the covetous deity pecking order, becoming one of the most worshipped of ancient Hindu devas.
Ganesh the remover of obstacles. Ganesh the patron of arts. Ganesh the deity of intellect and wisdom. Ganesh the Lord of success.
The elephant head represents the displacement of individual ego with Universal ego – the idea that before we leave this life we must no longer identify with the limited individual self, but rather with the large universal Self. In this way, our spiritual life is renewed, maturing into one that can truly benefit Creation.
Associated with mental agility, Ganesh’s single broken tusk represents the “pen” he creates to transcribe epic poetry — the vast learnings he has experienced. What I’m saying is that Ganesh was a writer.
Ganesh was also a god of astounding appetites. And – most importantly for today’s discourse — a god that befriended a tiny mouse, often depicted under his foot as his ever present companion. The mouse is commonly interpreted as a symbol for those seeking to overcome powerful low vibrating desires and become less selfish — the quest to find greater meaning and purpose in life.
Here’s where things get weird. The life arc of todays guest Mishka Shubaly (in his fifth appearance on the podcast – more co-host than guest at this point) bears more than passing similarity to our little Hindu friend.
Sorry Mishka, but I would go so far as to call you guys doppelgängers. Metaphorically at least.
Like Ganesh, Mishka is a man devoted to the arts and greater self-wisdom. A man devoted to his mother and scarred by a troubled relationship with his father. A man who has made his mark on the world by transcribing his broken past and attraction to destructive appetites as a primer for greater self-knowledge with a fearlessness that evokes Ganesh’s broken tusk. A man now ascending to become foremost among literary talents.
Mishka’s words serve up someone toiling with identity, his place in the world, and the conflict that breathes between ego and Universal Self. A man grappling with his own obstacles on a path towards maturing into one who can truly benefit Creation. An appealing yet reluctant determination for greater self-wisdom I think we can all — on some level — relate to our own personal challenges and life experiences.
And yet quite ironically, Mishka is also man who just just weeks ago knew little to nothing about this Ganesh character. This despite the huge elephant tattoo covering the better part of his left arm. The elephant t-shirts that bear his name. And his pet mouse.
You heard me right.
Mishkalito the tiny mouse that just as Ganesh, Mishka befriended that became his constant companion. A mouse that broke his heart wide open. A symbol for his gut wrenching wrangling laid bare. And a mouse that became the central subject in this writer’s latest confessional — the #1 bestselling Kindle Single Of Mice and Me*. A novella that pits Mishka’s low vibrating desires against his persistent, yet almost diffident yearning for greater meaning, connection and purpose.
Mishka, the modern day Ganesh. I like the ring of that.
Told you I’d bring it around. I always do.
If you are a long-time listener of the podcast, then you’ve treated yourself to several of our conversations. You know this guy at this point. He doesn’t need much formal introduction.
If you care about things like resumés, his goes something like this:
After receiving an expensive MFA from Columbia University, Mishka promptly quit writing to play music. He lived out of a Toyota minivan for a year, touring nonstop, and has shared the stage with artists like The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Decemberists.
His Kindle Singles – short non fiction novellas — have all been bestsellers. He writes true stories about drinking, drugs, disasters, desire, deception and their aftermath. His work has been praised for its grit, humor, fearlessness and heart. The Long Run*, his mini-memoir detailing his transformation from alcoholic drug abuser to sober ultra-runner is one of the best-selling Kindle Singles in Amazon history.
I urge all of you to check out his canon (links below). And no, you do not need a Kindle! You can read these offerings on basically any computer device; there are even free Kindle apps for both iOS and Android.
Otherwise, I hope you enjoy this peek into the complicated, curious, fascinating and always entertaining mind of Mishka Shubaly. Pretty sure this is our best conversation to date. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Peace + Plants,
P.S. – Literally moments (and by that I mean 2-3 minutes maximum) after I published this episode, the New York Times published a piece in the business section on the feud between Amazon and Hachette, featuring Mishka. Who would have thought Mishka’s picture would ever be on the front page the NY Times business section? That is the miracle of sobriety at work right there. Read the article HERE.
If you like very good writing and quick easy reads, check out Mishka’s array of Kindle Singles. Then thank me later.
- Of Mice and Me *
- The Long Run *
- Beat The Devil *
- Shipwrecked *
- Bachelor Number One *
- Are You Lonesome Tonight? *
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Other cool stuff from Mishka:
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