What is our "Hero's Journey"?
Thoughts on Joseph Campbell's "The Hero With A Thousand Faces"
The idea of the adventure of a hero is not one unique to the realms of myth and fairy tales. I am currently reading Joseph Campbell’s masterpiece, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” and I must admit that the profound nature of this book is eye-opening to say the least. Before opening the book, I would like to have believed that I understood the concept of a “Hero’s Journey” and what it entailed for characters in my books as they moved like chessmen across the board of space and time that is the plot of the story. And, now halfway through the book, I would also like to believe that I understand something more about stories.
And I would also like to believe that I have encountered something much more profound.
The “Hero’s Journey” affects us all, whether in the vastness of one’s life completely, or in the smallness of going to the grocery store. And the reason for this, I believe, is because the idea of this Journey is rooted in our abilities to choose. Even when one rejects their destiny, the destruction they have wrought is their creation, and theirs alone.
The Journey is all around us, an omnipresent force which moves the gears of the clock of destiny to chime to the time of the hero to begin again and be born anew. But the bell tolls for all, not just Theseus, and humanity’s destiny (and the destiny of the individual) resides in their unique keenness to hear the chimes of the seemingly supernatural, all-encompassing, subconscious forces of the world and mind.
So how then is the common man akin to the man of myth?
The answer is rather simple, and the answer is this: you have the ability to choose. Think about your choices every day, for the clock is constantly ticking, awaiting to chime its beckon for one to be summoned to the destiny of their life. Or perhaps it merely chimes to the destiny of one’s day, one’s singular hour. Destiny is a fickle mistress in that, though she is a commander of paths, she lays in bed with the autonomy of Free Will.
So, watch your life. You may be surprised to find that your “Hero’s Journey” lies everywhere. No matter how large. No matter how small. Listen well, for the bells of adventure beckon merely for those who hear.
William F. Burk
Award-winning author of fantasy, flash fiction, and poetry. Author of "The Heart of Hearts," a debut fantasy novel. Always writing, forever and ever.