I don’t think people are looking for the meaning of life, as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive – Joseph Campbell.
When I was younger I would read books about characters who would go off into the world and have adventures, face adversity and return home stronger and more enriched than before. I used to wish that I would have an opportunity to have such an adventure – it all seemed so mystical so impregnated with meaning and significance.
Today I watched the movie ‘Finding Joe’. It looks at the common theme behind all myths and legends as discovered by Joseph Campbell. This theme has common elements and was named the Hero’s Journey. The character would be viewed in their normal environment in their everyday life. Something about the status quo would change requiring the hero to leave their homes and their old selves behind. There would be an initiation where the hero would learn and be tested. The hero would then confront their demons which were in actual fact parts of themselves, constructs who’s role was to hold the hero back. The hero would find inner strength and abilities they didn’t know they had and vanquish the demons only to find it was illusion. From this a new understanding and awareness was gained and the hero would return home with this knowledge to share with their community.
It turns out that we are all on some aspect of a hero’s journey. Some of us may not heed the call to action but for those of us who answer it’s call it seems that there is only one path and it isn’t the straight and narrow.
Life is full of these challenges. They are the big hairy audacious ideas we have but are too afraid to act on. But if we listen to our inner voices, take a step of faith and follow our bliss as Joseph Campbell says ‘doors will appear where previously there were none.’
To me this is what life is all about – following our inner voices to uncover the talents and skills we have to share and be of service to the world. Maybe we have within us new ideas, new inventions, inspiration. If we don’t heed the call our song remains unsung and we with hold our essence from the world. Imagine some of the amazing things we are surrounded with, for example the internet. What if the people responsible for creating and making it available to us didn’t listen to their inner voice – how much more difficult would it be to share ideas and knowledge would it be?
The really cool thing about the hero’s journey is that it never really ends. I see now that I have had a couple of these adventures so far and yet here I am again – taking on a challenge that scares me somewhat, opening up to new experiences not knowing where it will lead me, but I have to say…If I already knew would it be as much fun to live it?
Image from here