The hero's journey, a way to connect with the true purpose of life.
Joseph Campbell, one of the best-known American mythographers of the 20th century, says that “the hero is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself”. Campbell defines the hero's journey as the common path of mythological adventure in which the initiation rites are represented: separation, initiation and return. "The hero begins his adventure from the everyday world to a region of supernatural wonders, he faces fabulous forces and wins a decisive victory; the hero returns from his mysterious adventure with the strength of giving gifts to his brothers." And what does this mean in everyday life? The hero's journey is a universal myth that talks about the processes of change and transformation that we all experience at some point in our lives. From the moment we are born we begin a life experience on this planet.The first years of life we depend entirely on our caregivers, when we reach adolescence we feel the urge to leave, to separate from the family; then, we become adults and decide to make our own life. Of course, this process may be different for everyone, but what is true is that archetypically, the psyche development process is common to everyone and involves some stages that many other people have already gone through and overcome.
Generally, there is a moment in our lives where we feel the call to leave the known and embark on the journey of the hero, the adventure into the unknown. That call can be a divorce, a loss of your job, an illness, a challenge, an identity crisis. Getting out of the comfort zone is the first step we must take if we want to change and achieve our goals; and many times this step is not so easy. The fear of the unknown, the fear of family judgment or the rejection of our friends, are some of the great obstacles we face. The hero's journey is really an inner journey where we face our dragons, fight them and win. It might involve breaking family patterns and facing family rejection, changing lifestyles and perhaps ending friendships. It is a journey towards coherence where we rediscover ourselves and, ultimately we find our true self.
I remember a friend who, close to his 40th birthday, made a drastic change in his life. He was a senior executive of a company, he wore a suit and tie everyday; was married and had two little children. I stopped seeing him for several years and when we met again I saw a totally different man. This time I saw a long-haired guy, wearing jeans and tennis shoes, he was divorced and was facilitating workshops about personal development. When we spoke he told me that he was dancing salsa every Friday in a nightclub. My friend said that one day he realized he was not happy, he had stopped doing the things he loved and dancing salsa was something very important for him. He then, decided to take a leap. That leap entailed many challenges for my friend, and I am sure he went through difficult times but finally, he found his true self and decided to live a coherent life.
The hero's call is always there, many times we ignore it and decide to stay in the comfort of the known, even though we feel unhappy. Some times our bodies reminds us about our incoherence and a physical symptoms might appear. The truth is that it is never too late to make the decision to hear the call, no matter how old we are. Ask yourself if you are happy, think about how many things you would like to do that you have not done yet, how many of your dreams are waiting to be fulfilled. In the end, remember that the passage through this life is your personal journey and the main purpose is your own happiness, recognizing that you come first.