On hearing and heeding the call to action, and embarking on The Hero’s Journey.
Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. You would think they follow a continuum, but stories are wily creatures. They twist and morph and turn themselves inside out, and just when you think you’re in the middle of a story, there’s a beginning again.
This is one such beginning. Somewhere between the middle of one story and the end of another one.
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The Hero’s Journey
What’s your favorite story of all time – be it from a movie, a novel, or a fairy tale? Think back on the plot line, specifically the story arc of your favorite character.
Chances are, it will closely fit into the template of The Hero’s Journey – a framework popularized by Joseph Campbell, and subsequently adapted by screenwriter Christopher Vogler. At its simplest, The Hero’s Journey involves a hero who hears a call to adventure, overcomes various challenges and temptations on his quest, often with the help of allies and mentors, and returns home changed or transformed in small or big ways.
“The hero’s journey is inside of you; tear off the veils and open the mystery of your self.”JOSEPH CAMPBELL
Once you see this framework at play in your favorite stories, it’s easy to turn around and see how it plays out in your own personal story, too.
After all, we have all undergone personal transitions and struggles that have changed us in big and small ways. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’re not the same person you were 5 years ago. Your trials and triumphs on this journey of life continue to shape who you are and how you show up in the world.
Looking at it from this framework, I’m sure you can see where your stories intersect – in some places you’re in the middle of the story. In other places, you’re at the end. And between those two are new stories that are waiting to be written.
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The Call to Adventure
“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.”ALAN WATTS
At the end of a long day spent designing a website for my husband, I was overcome by a longing to scrap my website and design something new. I’ve had my online home since 2006, and while I have made a number of changes to how it looks and feels over the years, it now has too many moving parts for me to redesign it.
Though I was quite willing to scrap it and begin anew, a conversation with a dear friend helped me realize that I didn’t necessarily want a makeover for my existing home, but rather, to create an additional home. Because more than the short-term thrill of designing a new website, what I really wanted was a space to write long-form, essay style articles exploring a range of subjects that simply didn’t fit into the vibe of my current home.
So here we are. The call to adventure has been answered. The journey has begun. As with any journey, there will be excitement and discovery as well as trials and tribulations along the way.
I will look to my mentors as I face my demons along the way – both the imposter complex that tries to convince me I’m not a good enough writer and the fruitless search for external validation, which tends to equate views with worth.
And as I continue down this path, undaunted for the most part by all the hurdles along the way, I’m sure I will return changed: in small and subtle – and maybe even big and significant ways.
Because the very objective of this website and this exploration runs counter to why most people set up blogs these days. I’m less interested in money and views and more interested in giving free reign to my ideas, connecting the dots as I read on subjects as varied as philosophy, creativity, productivity, history, mythology and more.
I also know how disheartening a lack of views can be. To this end, I aim to remind myself that ultimately, whether people read these words of mine, whether they like them or not, is really not in my control. The only thing I can control are my own choices: in this case, my decision to write.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…”EPICTETUS
If you’re interested in reading long-form articles, essays, and shorter pieces on a wide range of subjects that will make you re-think some of your ideas, and help you to live, work, and play better, I do hope that you will join me for the ride!
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If you’re new to The Hero’s Journey framework, this article on the monomyth lays it out really well, and also provides resources to explore and compare three different works through the lens of the Monomyth: Mali’s Sunjata, South Asia’s Ramayana, and Japan’s Yamato.