One of our subscribers recommended I watch a documentary on Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Here’s a short trailer too. Campbell was intrigued about stories in all cultures. Studying them, he found they all had the same themes. Thus, he designed one structure of the hero’s journey to reflect these themes. He called this journey we all share the monomyth. We’re all on the same kind of journey. We’re all our own heroes.
Life is the same for all of us, from an internal perspective. We’re all born, grow, and then die. We go through certain rites-of-passage, trials, and celebrations. Understanding the monomyth gives us a road map, which helps guide us along our way. It helps us be less shocked when things happen that we don’t expect so we can roll with the waves of change more gracefully.
The hero’s journey has three portions: ordinary world, initiation, and return. In the ordinary world, life is normal, and stressful. Why? Because we’re fighting against life. We haven’t looked deeply enough within ourselves to decide what work we choose to do. That restlessness and frustration in our ordinary world motivates us (at least it has that potential) to change. It motivates us to look deeper for our life purpose. This searching begins our life as warriors. Then we step across the threshold into the unknown to begin our initiation journey. We’re being initiated by figuring out how to make this new life purpose work. We encounter many trials that test us so we can learn. That learning helps us self actualize our potential. Then, we step across the threshold again, back to the ordinary world. This is our return journey. Here, we serve the world based on what we learned during initiation. The wisdom we learned during initiation is worthless unless it’s shared with the world.
I’m actually structuring the new book I’m writing (for the general public) along the hero’s journey. In the ordinary world portion, I’m outlining the struggles we feel, finding our purpose/calling, and defining characteristics of the warrior. This first portion of the journey is about “the Warrior.” Becoming a warrior, rather than remaining a victim complaining about how life is, is important before beginning our initiation journey. The initiation portion of the journey I’m calling “the Way.” Here we learn the ways of warriors, the tools for developing our mental faculties such as awareness, attention, and intention. These help us build our mental power. Once we’ve gone through these trials and self actualized our potential, then we step back across the threshold to give to the world what we’ve learned. I’m calling this portion “The Warrior’s Way.” It’s the way warriors transcend their individual ego selves and give back to the world, to serve it.
Life, of course, isn’t nicely linear or even circular as this simple structure of the hero’s journey. We don’t wait until we’re self actualized before we begin transcending the self and serving the world. We have micro hero’s journeys within this larger structure, of self actualizing as we learn and transcending ourselves as we serve. Life is kind of messy that way. Warriors accept that messiness and continue taking steps on their journey.