“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” ~Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology
In 1949, American mythographer Joseph Campbell published The Hero with a Thousand Faces, one of the most influential books of the 20th century. Using comparative mythology, Campbell discovered a universal motif of adventure and transformation that punctuates and amalgamates all traditions, cultures, myths, religions, stories and, perhaps most profoundly, every human life. Ours is an age bent on the scientific and the factual, and only that which is literal is held sacred. Gone from our lives are the mystical and the magical. There are no dragons to slay. There are no princesses to save, no goddesses to encounter. There is no such thing as the Force or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The land of Oz still remains somewhere over the rainbow and we can’t help feeling a bit stuck in Kansas from time to time. We celebrate and idolize (and perhaps even envy) the heroes and characters we watch in film or read about in books because our lives - because our stories - pale in comparison. And yet, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter - Dorothy, their stories resonate within us deeply and profoundly and they do so precisely because, in a figurative way, their adventures are our adventures.
Adolescence is no less bewildering than adulthood and the forks in the road of your future abound. Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey provides a lens through which your appreciation for and understanding of any story will deepen. But more than that, it will enable you read your past as you would the beginning of a book and anticipate your future as you would the ending of a movie. It is important and empowering to recognize the hero within yourself. Doing so helps to make sense of your struggles, to be brave in the face obstacles and ultimately meet your intended destiny.