Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.
Campbell, 1993. p 25.
Joseph Campbell was an American academic who spent his entire life studying myths, folktales, religions and legends from across time. Early on he realised that the same story, though in a million different variations, was being told and retold. He referred to this one story as ‘the Hero’s Journey’.
What Joe taught me …
Joseph Campbell’s work on the Hero’s Journey continues to provide me with a guide to living a full and meaningful life. In my youth, I had naively thought a happy life was a life without troubles. I had thought there would come a time when I would figure out ‘how to be happy’ and then I would simply be happy all the time. I had thought that a happy life was a life without hassles, without rancour, without enemies, only good friends and good times. My naive belief had been that happiness was in fact the absence of trouble.
Following the Hero’s Journey however, taught me to embrace my troubles (yes, even the ones that I never wanted to happen). It taught me to pay attention to the things I was trying to avoid. It taught me that everyone will have, must have moments when they no longer fit their lives. The Hero’s Journey taught me that one minute you can be enjoying your life and the next, have it disappear before your eyes. Despite the cruelty or senselessness of the event, there is no going back.
The Hero’s Journey taught me that I needed ‘to give up the life I had planned in order to have the life that was waiting for me’ (Campbell, 1988 ). I learnt that road to happiness involves troubles, unwanted troubles, unexpected troubles, pain-in-the arse troubles. There is no happiness to be had without troubles and the Hero’s Journey was the key to learning to see my troubles, no matter how much I hated or detested them, were the keys to my life.
‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek’.