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The Hero's Journey


I've recently been reading quite a bit about myth and story telling, from the legend that is Joseph Campbell, dissecting so many motifs and narrative metaphors that I almost feel spacey at times -- wrapping my head around the concepts and the less than obvious morals and messages (which I totally live for!).


One motif, that has stuck strong with me recently, is the hero's journey. The obvious message, is that we are all the main characters in our own stories; and in this case, the hero (should we choose to be).

This is not a self-centered matter of fact statement, but the actual truth. Our perspective is exactly that - so why wouldn't we think of ourselves first, with our best interest at heart? -- but also willing to follow our muses, passions and loves, and even at times self-sacrificing for the greater good?


As many fantasies and great epic's go, the hero must dedicate himself to a journey of sorts. To us, this looks like choosing to participate in life changes, or lack thereof (and staying put, just where we are).


When you engage in life, you are willing to make dynamic change. This is not to say, you don't prepare for change. Of course, we do not want to be reckless or identify with the passive nature of "whatever happens is meant to be." I'm talking about being willing to go beyond what is predictable and familiar, for an opportunity of growth and reward. Often times, we stay stuck in jobs or relationships (the two most relatable examples), which feel recognizable, but do not fully flourish or challenge us; however they convince us that there is this false sense of comfort or safety in staying the same.


Staying the same is staying the same -- and I personally, haven't wanted to be the same in forever (this isn't to be confused with loving yourself; it's the continued desire to become a good quality person; AND loving yourself along the way as you make mistakes, feel guilt, joy, all the things) -- it's not an either or.

If we adapt this motif of the hero's journey, we are more willing to make changes and moves in these human lives. This is not to say fear will not accompany us on this change of navigation; but rather, it will come with us; along with hope and curiosity, and we will do it anyway.


When the hero faces the abyss or the unknown, there are only 2 possible results: the hero is taken by the abyss, never to return, or the hero overcomes some kind of physical or psychological challenge and get's the treasure.


Regardless of the outcome, the hero evolves.

This is the greater message of the hero's journey -- it is to say that going on the journey is the living part -- that is the willingness to be open to something different, or something worth having. The outcomes are, in simple terms, "failing," or as I like to call it, "learning," and overcoming/being rewarded (often times with physical treasure - a la personal growth, the princess, love, etc.!). Regardless of these two outcomes, we are given an opportunity to evolve.


Perceived failure is the absolute BEST, and gives the most, because it creates points of reference for the person to apply to future circumstances. You see, this is where we tend to get hung up-- we "fail" and then we wallow in the said failure, rather than having an temporary emotional response (you are human), and then learning from the said failure.


There are more people in life that have failed and then became something, than were just born into something (although, luck and grace, play a heavy role into "the fortunate."). But, I'm talking about general experiences and personal journeys. This is where experience (if taken) will outweigh innovation, because the person has tried x, y and z, found an outcome, adapted and evaluated it and then determined what is next. The best teachers, athletes, actors, etc. are the one's who have journey-ed on and lived through several change filled experiences.

If you never have an actual outcome, your imagination only creates potential outcomes, many of which or all of which never happen.

You see, you're actually choosing to stay static - stay in what you are, to not participate, and giving yourself an excuse to remain as is (even if it's painful).

You see, life is a great opera, and choosing to play is sometimes painful.

But there isn't any other option for those of us want to live this life, rather than just create meaning out of it. It was meant to be lived, and the journey was meant to be had.


So, pick up the sword filled with fear, and collect the shield of hope and curiosity and run madly into the abyss, because what you find there will always serve you, if you allow it to.

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