All stories—all myths—boil down to a map that guides us: the hero’s journey. From the ancient myths, philosophies and religions from around the world, to our modern movies, we can find the hero’s journey over and over.
Consider the story line of the following movies: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight, Superman, The Matrix, Rocky, Wizard of Oz, and Alice in Wonderland. They all follow the same stages of the hero’s journey: yearning, preparation, journey, arrival, return. Each protagonist has an awakening and goes from one sense of reality into a new reality where they are initiated, struggle with their inner conflicts, obtain wisdom, and return to share with their community.
These characters and their experiences are metaphors for human existence. They nourish the seed of potential within us that wants to be actualized. These experiences claim our inner resources. They encourage us to go beyond the false limitations of our possibilities. They transform us. They are metaphors for our Fourth Principle – the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. As we conduct that ongoing search, we repeat the stages over and over again. And we are transformed. The labyrinth is a great metaphor for this process, and a wonderful spiritual practice.
Pete and I have friends who are retired from meaningful careers. They have voyaged through several iterations of the hero’s journey, and now they return to share their gifts in ways different than before. Their vision is to make life easier for people who are still working, especially in endeavors they heartily support. They cook and deliver meals, buy restaurant gift certificates and do grocery shopping. They offer household chores and errands - dry cleaning delivery and pickup, cleaning and laundry. In these ways, they are making meaning – for themselves and those they help. They are heroes. And in the process, both they and those they help, are transformed.
Where are you in the journey? Yearning? Preparing? On the road struggling with inner conflicts? Arriving and obtaining wisdom? Returning to share with your community? Each of these thresholds is part of the voyage, part of your journey as a hero in this world, part of the free and responsible search for meaning, part of how you will be transformed. I look forward to hearing about your journey!