After several months of solitude and introspection I’ve come to the realisation that nature doesn’t make mistakes. Have you ever seen a badly designed tree or a misshapen cloud? Everything is unfolding exactly as it should and we’re here to witness the process. It only gets complicated when you try to explain it with words. Your nervous system has worked without instruction since the day you were born, yet the mere topic of a neuron can fill entire books without beginning to scratch the surface. Your brain is deciphering each word to formulate this sentence without you consciously doing so. So take a second, let go of those distracting thoughts and observe the infinite beauty of the present moment.
My Life Is My Lesson
Since childhood I’ve been fascinated by Greek mythology. Homer’s Odyssey, The Twelve Labours of Heracles, the tragic tale of Sisyphus, all left an impression on my young mind. Why do some stories survive for centuries while others are forgotten in an instant? I’m not a religious guy but I do notice where religious ideas overlap. Certain books and religious texts seem to carry on because the lessons and virtues displayed within them are timeless. Rather than taking a story literally I look for the lesson and meaning behind it which has led me to Joseph Campbell and his work on the Hero’s Journey.
“The first function of mythology is showing everything as a metaphor to transcendence.”
The study of hero myth narratives started in 1871 by an anthropologist Edward Tylor. Over the years new theories by Otto Rank, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung built on this foundation to reveal a narrative pattern: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
In simple terms this means that every person is a hero in their own story. It takes courage and bravery to overcome fear that manifests over time. Majority of people never answer their call to adventure. It is too difficult, too daunting, and too uncomfortable. The future hero refuses to trust his intuition and tries to reason with every decision. “Have I taken enough data into consideration? How do I plan for events beyond my control?” When the number of variables is infinite you have to trust the complex machinery of nature and take a leap of faith.
You will never be at peace with yourself if you do not answer the call to adventure. In time you will build up resentment with the knowledge that you missed an opportunity to pursue a higher purpose. Life will carry on and new problems will arise no matter how much you try to distance or insulate yourself from trouble. The only difference will be whether you see yourself as a victim of circumstances or a hero that’s prepared for the unexpected trials of life.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss, don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
This narrative can be applied to many areas of life such as careers or relationships. Joseph Campbell understood that to begin on the path of the hero’s journey one must follow their heart. Their intuition. Choosing a path that offers the biggest opportunity for growth and self discovery. The uncertainty of the journey preys on your insecurities, fears and obligations. By slaying these metaphorical dragons one becomes the hero and collects the treasure of wisdom. Wisdom that can be used as a building block for the next journey as well as serving others who may still be in hell.
Heroes are all around us. Just think about some of your favourite films or books or even people you look up to. We subconsciously choose to label them as such because they display virtues that we value or lack ourselves. A virtue can be anything from strength to courage to empathy. The fun starts in identifying yours and not judging others for what they consider important. Myths are beneficial in this regard because they tell us through stories and centuries of experience what to expect, what patterns keep repeating.
Imagine this process as a clock. Everyone is at a different stage of their journey but each stage follows a predictable pattern. There’s the call to adventure, when an opportunity suddenly presents itself. After accepting the opportunity a magical mentor will arrive. Either as an inner mentor or an outer one, someone who will guide the hero, offer protection and reassurance, and share wisdom intended to help the hero navigate the challenging journey ahead.
Consciously crossing the threshold into the unknown marks the hero’s willingness to undergo metamorphosis. This stage contains an element of mysticism as synchronicities tend to pop up and new people enter the fray. At this stage the honeymoon period is over and the hero’s initiation has begun. The new people you encounter may be allies or enemies who hinder your progress but yet again intuition will guide you through.
One develops their intuition by relying on it while minimising outside noise and cultivating an information diet. In the age of social media and instant gratification it’s easy to get distracted by the onslaught of information constantly battling for our attention. Avoid overstimulating your mind with information and opinions that didn’t develop from your own critical thinking.
After overcoming the obstacles and challenges posed by this new reality the hero comes to the point of no return. The point where they risk losing it all. Surviving this trial is a right of passage, one that shapes the hero into a wiser, more enlightened person. The journey and experience is the real treasure of this process but don’t go celebrating just yet. It’s tempting to hoard this knowledge but a real hero returns ‘home’ to share the fruits of his labour. Something that makes people stand up and say “you know, there may be something to this”.
Dorothy makes it back to Kansas with the knowledge that there’s no place like home. Luke Skywalker learns to ally himself with The Force. Nelson Mandela becomes President and dismantles apartheid, bringing to chaos the peace he discovered during his imprisonment. The treasure is unique to the individual and the journey is what gives your life its flavour. For most people, their purpose will be to share love, compassion and energy with the world. It is not for society to judge a man’s journey but, rather, it is for the man himself to lead a fulfilling life and become the man or woman he/she was destined to be. (SOURCE)
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
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