Watching Lion King or Star Wars may touch my soul in mysterious ways, but putting Joseph Campbell’s words to the Hero’s Journey idea helps me grab hold of it more tightly and apply its power to my own life.
Here are my top six things to know (and quote) from Campbell’s work:
- The Hero’s Journey is not an affront to reason. “It’s not to deny reason. To the contrary, by overcoming dark passions, the hero symbolizes our ability to control the irrational savage within us.”
- The Hero’s Journey affirms life as an adventure of self-discovery. I will ask myself these transformative questions: Am I really a match for this task? Can I overcome the dangers? Do I have the courage and the capacity to serve?
- Even though it’s about self-discovery, ironically, the journey results in a shift toward losing my self-protective ego. I end up getting out of my self-pity, my fears and finding a higher level of thinking that serves others.
- Being an avid reader is central to the journey. “The best teachers are books.”
- The definition of hero matters. “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” (At Acton, we add that a hero is one who picks herself up again after falling down.)
- The adventure evokes a quality of my character that I didn’t know I had. “You find out more about yourself as you go on.”
Being a parent is my biggest Hero’s Journey of all. While working hard to guide, teach, love and care for my children, I end up discovering more about my own true self and, hopefully, shedding my self-protective ego as I go. And while my children are out discovering themselves, maybe one day I, too, will find out who I truly am.