The foundational meme of HODL has rung true in so many ears precisely because it is Bitcoin’s call to everyone to embark upon a Hero’s Journey. HODL feels true because it is related to an intrinsic component of Bitcoin’s emergent culture, which is grounded in the Hero’s Journey.
Bitcoin has itself heeded the call to embark upon the Journey to rise against the Chimera of several decades of mismanaged sovereign currency regimes and idiosyncratically regulated markets. We are its helpers and its mentors during its own trials; but to do so, we must ourselves heed this call for a Hero’s Journey that is moored in HODL.
It would be altogether easy to dismiss HODL as a frivolous meme (coequal with BTFD, FUD and FOMO). That would be a mistake. It is actually emblematic of bedrock values upon which stronger cultural memes are eventually developed. And which support a culture’s foundations.
HODL to Create a Better “You”
The hero who starts at the beginning of the Journey is not the same person at the end. The two inhabit the same body, it is true, but they would not recognize one another if they met, so deep is the transformation that the Journey forces upon the hero.
Arguably it is this dissonance in the individual that makes the very first step of the Journey arguably its most significant. Heeding the call to adventure requires a newly forged and steely resolve.
“I AM HODLING!” is a declaration of intent, be it privately in the hero’s conscience or publicly on a forum.
This intent permits the hero to curb his pride and sloth and allows his to accept with grace that he cannot cross over the threshold into the unknown without deferring judgment to a mentor or guide.
Bitcoin is replete with guides — real as well as fake gurus — and the Journey challenges you to put Knowledge firmly as the objective in separating one from the other. Knowledge alone stands as the final arbiter of the merits of your mentors and helpers. Realize that the hero’s transformation cannot occur before he fights through the pain of his torment — before he slays all dragons — in search of a revelation.
The Hero’s Journey of HODLing liberates the hero’s energies from its prior occupation with trading, and from following the beeline. The threshold that the hero crosses allows him to expend those liberated energies in the pursuit of Knowledge.
There are, essentially, two versions of the same person in every story of a Journey. The hero at the beginning has preferences and values that do not accord with the preferences and values that the hero ends up with at Journey’s end. This, of course, is the entire point of undertaking the Journey, but it is also what makes it so daunting, so frightening, to undertake it at all. The hero must let go of his former self in the pursuit of his transformed version.
Bitcoin is proposing an alternate and more efficient monetary system for a new, more integrated global economy — one that is almost impossible to fathom clearly in all its complexities. The Journey’s end is unknown; all that is known with certainty is that the Journey inspires the acquisition of Knowledge, the relinquishing of outmoded paradigms and the abandoning of familiar but flawed trappings.
For most people across the planet, the very first step of the Hero’s Journey is an almost sheer vertical cliff. These are the people who have not yet seen reason in or rationale for heeding the call to commence the Journey. There are those among them who buy Bitcoin not to HODL but to trade with, and there are also those who see no reason to have anything to do with Bitcoin at all. Both sets of people remain stuck in their current mindsets and worldviews, unable to heed the call of adventure and embark on the Journey. The HODL Journey in Bitcoin sketches a map that becomes clearer with the acquisition of Knowledge. It proposes a first-best solution, but it is a first-best solution to a problem that the current selves of many people have not yet experienced keenly enough or that their current selves have learned to accommodate.
History, psychology and behavioral economics teaches us that humans are very often exceptionally able in constructing false realities in their present: realities that accommodate the tyrannies of their present that their future selves would be loath to tolerate. We are, in other words, hardwired to resist the urge to embark on a Hero’s Journey.
Perhaps this call to embark upon the adventure that is the HODL Journey remains unconvincing to you. If you need a different sort of ‘rationale’, read on.