Monday, July 23, 2007
joseph campbell the great mythologist wrote about "the hero's journey." it's one of the great archetypes, a hugely important metaphor for how we human beings experience our lives. dorothy in "the wizard of oz," luke skywalker in the "star wars" films, perseus, hercules, the knights of the round table, aragorn and frodo from "the lord of the rings" (i would argue jesus in the gospels, though to some people that's heresy), peter parker as spider-man, and on and on - and now harry potter. book 7 makes it clear that where j. k. rowling was headed all along was the resultion of the hero's journey. the leap into adulthood. the learning of lessons and the facing of fears ... and in book 7, the ultimate enemy is death itself ... or maybe it's what we fear and feel about death.
in the real world, and not story, the journey is often interrupted, or incomplete, or unresolved. we don't receive our mentor. our initiations are goofed up. our enemy/ shadow/ minotaur/ dragon/ satan/ voldemort isn't on time, or we never see that it is a reflection of ourselves, or there's no context for us to understand the gift that enemy is to us.
i think sometimes that there is a problem in our culture, which is, many of the adults in the westernized christian consumerist individualist world have no sense of their own lives' being meaningful in a larger context than their own stuff. mine, mine, mine. i want, i want, i want. and since we're all so mobile, the idea of a tribe of people, or even a mentor, who help us in our personal journey, just doesn't make a lot of sense. we have therapists or small groups that help us along the way. that's good. but very few things in our culture reinforce the message: you are a hero. that means you are here to serve. you have responsibility. you have power. (remember "spider-man"?) you will have to decide what and whom you serve, and why. and there are resources to help you.
sometimes i feel alone. but not often, anymore. i felt a lot more alone when i was a younger man. i look back in sadness about that. i was on my own, building a family and a marriage and a career and trying not to implode or explode. i survived, but it took a while. i had to do a lot of learning, breaking, rebuilding, mistake-making, hurting and being hurt. maybe that was my hero's journey. but i have learned some things, and am learning still more. i want to help other men and women as they go through this path of leaving safety, crossing a threshold, facing trials, finding a helper, traveling to confrontation, and victory ... and return. it repeats. and goes on. and we all need reminders ... and help ...
you are on a journey. where are you? do you know? can you find someone to help you figure that out? this moment is the only moment there is, in the universe, period. but it's informed by the way i understand the moments that have alrleady been, and my thoughts about the moments that may come. so, the way i see, is everything.
when i see my life as meaningless, it is. when i see my life as meaningful, it is.
mine is meaningful today. and you?
check back with me about 7, when i get tired every day and wonder whatthefuck ...