The Hero's Journey
The Call to Adventure. To venture out from the known into the unknown.
If you think it is just a game for the young, consider Bilbo Baggins, who first leaves the comfort of the known, the Shire, at the ripe age of 51.
Now, your and my adventures likely won’t involve the company of wizards and dwarves and thieving a precious jewel from a mighty dragon’s dungeon, but you might be surprised at the similarities.
This is because we are all on the Hero’s Journey - we are living it out in real time. We can’t help it.
There are timeless “story beats” that manifest in most lives, and if they don’t, it is probably because something tragic has happened.
One such story beat is the conquering of that which threatens chaos, disorder, and harm in your life. Each of us is “called” in a sense to embark toward this endeavor. And that which you most want or need is precisely where you don’t want to go. The jewel beneath the dragon’s belly. The fitness of your body is found in the thick of a consistent workout/diet regimen. A good marriage is located exactly where your selfishness comes to an end. In general, goods worth pursuing require a sacrifice, a payment, a struggle.
The archetypal hero, of course, succeeds in his task and returns home having been transformed for the better during his time in the unknown. Think here of Lion King’s Simba - useless in the adolescent jungle paradise with his friends, and then courageous, mighty, responsible king upon his return to Pride Rock.
What Hero’s Journey are you on right now?
What adventure are you called to?
What is the unknown that beckons your exploration?
What will it cost you to venture forth?
How will you be transformed by the journey?
What good will you bring to your known upon your return?
If this is too much to digest, shift your level of analysis down a few orders of magnitude. Instead of envisioning your whole life (a daunting, yet necessary task at some point), consider just today.
What’s today’s dragon that needs slaying? Get out of the known, your bed - and go forth unto adventure. You’ll likely return in a dozen hours or so to your known, but in the meantime, embark with courage on today’s Hero’s Journey.
Just like in Bilbo’s adventure, where Smaug the dragon threatens to set ablaze all that is good, there are mini “dragons” in everyday life that threaten the same thing. The 30-minute mindless social media scroll that threatens to rob you of what you want to accomplish today. The car in front of you going 5 mph under the speed limit that tempts a shalom-ruining outburst. Self-medicating junk food at every street corner, consumption of which mockingly resets your health odometer yet again.
From whence will you find the power, the courage, the fortitude to slay today’s dragons?
If you are curious about the Hero’s Journey, you’re in good company! We discuss it in this week’s episode available on Youtube and your favorite podcatcher.
We’d love to hear from you! You can write into the show at firstname.lastname@example.org.