I Found The Hero I Was Looking For

last updated on may 2022

Ever considered YOU ARE A HERO. What if, in fact, YOU are the hero you've been looking or waiting for. It's true: We are, each one of us, not only the protagonist, but the hero in our own story.

Heard of Joseph Campbell, and “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”? Campbell explored the characters that show up again and again, in myths and legends, but also how they play out in our own lives – how we all have a calling and what happens when we ignore the call.

“Often in actual life … we encounter … the call unanswered; for it is always possible to turn the ear to other interests. Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or ‘culture,’ the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.”

Sounds like a lot of what goes on in our society; hard work, or boredom when not, or being led by our culture, doing what we've been told will fulfil us. All of this is just turning our ear away from the true calling of our heart, the thing that will REALLY light us up in life.
On a positive note, he mostly shows what happens when we hear the call and respond…

“WHEN the hero-quest has been accomplished, … the adventurer …return(s) with his life-transmuting trophy. …. the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even the Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have passed away while in the supernal ecstasy. "

In many cultures, across the eons, the ‘Hero’ shows up consistently in stories and the structure of his journey always follows the same process:

If it is so, that we all have been called to 'adventure', whether we have them away or towards, perhaps you'll be able to find yourself somewhere in your hero's journey.

The following has been inspired by a Youtube clip below and Christopher Volger’s Writer's Journey.

Phase 1: An uncomfortable moment – in the ordinary world.
We almost always start with a hero who is in some environment where they know something is wrong and something has got to be done.
An example: The Matrix – Neo wakes up, goes to work resistant
Neo’s boss: “you have a problem with authority, don’t you Mr Anderson”

Phase 2: A call to adventure.
Something becomes clear … YOU must do something.

An example:

  • The Matrix – Neo gets the call to go out of the building, along the window ledge.
  • Star Wars – R2D2 plays the recording that the galaxy is in danger. “This is our most hopeless hour. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You are my only hope”.
  • Harry Potter – letters come flooding in the fireplace, calling him.

Phase 3: Refusal of the call, learning the Truth & Gaining a Special Item Refusing the call
The hero says, “No”. Really, it is the fear that comes up. Everyone has a fear of change. That is what it really is about.

Refusal of the call
An example:

  • The Matrix – Neo is out on the ledge, but he decides not to go forward. He is too scared.
  • Harry Potter – “I’m a what”?
    Rubeus Hagrid, “A wizard. And a thumping good one at that, once you train up a little”.
    Harry, “No. You have made a mistake”.
  • Star Wars – Luke, “I’m not going to Alderaan. I’ve got to get home. I’m late as it is”.
    Obi-Wan, “I need her help Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing”.

Learning the truth
An example:

  • Star Wars – Luke finds out about his heritage.
    “No. My father didn’t fight in the wars. He was a navigator in the spice freighter”.
    Obi-Wan, “That’s what your Uncle told you”.
    “How did my father die”?
  • Harry Potter – discovers about his parents.
    Harry to a friend, “You knew! You knew all along and you never told me! You told me my parents died in a car crash”!
    Rubeus Hagrid, “A car crash”?

Gaining a special Item
An example:

  • Star Wars – Obi-Wan, “I have something here for you” …and gives the light-phaser. “An elegant weapon for a more civilised age”.
  • Harry Potter receives a two thousand-year-old wand.
  • Lord of the rings – Frodo of the Shire is given a sword made by the elves. “The blade glows blue when orcs are close”.

Phase 4: Overcoming the fear and Meeting the Mentor.
An example: The Matrix – Neo meets Morpheus

Phase 5: Crossing the Threshold.
Almost every story has a threshold, where you get that feeling – all the prep is over – all the packing is done, and now we are really setting out on the adventure.

An example: The Matrix – All are inside the matrix, standing waiting for the phone to ring, Morpheus, “We’re in”.

Phase 6: Tests, Allies and Enemies.
Here the Hero begins to explore this new world, to find out what is really true, who is on their side, what can I eat, what can you eat and picks up some lessons.

An example:

  • The Matrix – a young person in mental training says, “do not try to bend the spoon. That is impossible”.
  • The Lord of the Rings – Frodo is invited by the Elven Princess, “will you look into the mirror”?
    Frodo asks, “what will I see”?
    The Elven Princess, “Even the wisest cannot tell, for the mirror shows many things”.
  • Harry Potter – In class, “In this room, you shall discover if you possess the ‘sight’”.

Phase 7: Approach and the Inner Cave.
Here the Hero is deeply into the new terrain and getting ready to face the big one – the big question or the big battle or struggle in that world. The moment of preparation and rehearsal for that is going on.

Phase 8: The ordeal
The Hero must go through some severe test. That may involve facing death.

Phase 9: The Reward
If you survive, there is a pay-off. The guy gets the girl. The heroes are acknowledged, or prized by the object of their affection. But, whatever has happened, there is a moment of celebration.
An example: Harry Potter – “Gryffindor wins the house cup”.

Phase 10: The Road Back
The Hero now must collect themselves and start the finish. Often there is a chase.
An example: The Matrix – Neo’s girlfriend asks, “what is he doing”?
Morpheus, “he is beginning to believe”.

Phase 11: The Resurrection – Return to Life
The hero must face one more time – in a more final way – at a bigger scale and a deeper level. So, they are really being tested about everything they have learned on the way.

Phase 12: Return with the Elixir
The elixir is sort of a magic thing that brings back life into the culture.
So, the idea is that the hero must go on a journey and learn some things AND bring something back, otherwise it is a waste of time.

NOW… to you the reader…
Where do you find yourself along your journey in life - your hero's journey?

Deb Maes

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