Uncovered | How separation can start your Hero’s Journey.
The Hero’s Journey as a mudmap for life
Joseph Campbell suggested that life is a series of Hero’s Journeys. Here we look at learning how to view your own life through the lens of the Hero’s Journey and to use this as a mudmap for your everyday life.
Every Hero’s Journey starts with a change in circumstances. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz get stuck in a tornado and ends up in Oz. Luke Skywalker finds a droid with a message and ends up becoming a Jedi and fighting the Empire.
Joseph Campbell called such events ‘departures’ as in some manner they separate the hero from life as it used to be. These SEPARATIONS leave us in a strange new place, where we don’t know what to do to return things to normal.
Everyday life events can feel like a tornado. You only have to look at the newspaper or social media to see such life events happening everyday to people all over the world.
Campbell similarly noted that in real life, such SEPARATIONS are happening all the time. Early in life we are SEPARATED from home to start school. With each grade we are again SEPARATED from those who we know. We leave school to go to work or further studies. More SEPARATIONS.
Throughout life we will repeatedly be SEPARATED from life as we knew it.
We find ourselves in a foreign place. We are unsure of what to do. Each departure tests us. Are we up to the challenge or will we refuse it?
Here is just a short list of some of life’s SEPARATIONS.
- moving schools;
- moving to a new town or city;
- starting a relationship;
- ending a relationship;
- starting a new job;
- leaving an old job;
- getting a new manager;
- starting a business;
- losing a business
- experiencing an infidelity;
- becoming a parent;
- transitioning from one career to another;
- being gay or bisexual or transgender;
- having a loved one become ill or incapacitated;
- having an accident that affects you physically or emotionally;
- losing a loved one.
Some SEPARATIONS may be wanted (e.g. a new baby). Some may come as a complete shock (a diagnosis). Whichever it is, we will experience a SEPARATION from life as we know it. We are no longer sure what to do, where to go or even where to begin.
For examples of the many and varied kinds of SEPARATION we may experience in life.
If you have an understanding of the Hero’s Journey, you will have a life-long advantage, being able to view change (separations) and the problems they create as a new life chapter. Instead of the change feeling chaotic, fearful or overwhelming, the hero’s journey allows you to see order in the chaos, to identify what is required to adapt to change and begin the adventure of resolving the problems caused by the change. The hero’s journey is indeed a mudmap, a lifelong compass helping you to find your way.
And yet there is even more to this lifelong mudmap. Following the hero’s journey also puts on you on a path to create a life that more truly resonates with who you are. Many of us are in the habit of living: one day is pretty much like the next. Or we are living the life that others have told that we should have e.g., take that career, marry that person, live life quietly and don’t rock the boat!
The hero’s journey is a path to becoming more your true self, to having a sense of being fully alive and it is this that makes for life well lived.