The Hero’s Journey seems to keep coming up for me lately. Although I’ve been aware of the idea of put forth by Joseph Campbell, it has come up at least 3 times in the past few weeks.
I was listening* to the book Rising Strong, by Brené Brown and she brought it up. Liz and I were chatting with friend who works in animation here in Dublin, and he mentioned it. And last week I started on Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward, and as you’ve probably guessed by now, he spends a good part of his book on the Hero’s Journey.
(*I generally listen to one audiobook a month, normally while I’m jogging…and by the way, those are both affiliate links above.)
Chapter 2 Sucks
So how would I sum up the Hero’s Journey? Basically, Chapter 2 sucks.
Okay, here’s my version of the hero’s journey…in chapter 1, something happens that propels our hero on an epic journey. And often our hero is an unlikely choice who was simply living a normal life. (think: Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Bilbo, Woody and Buzz, etc.) They set out on their journey, normally with a community of some sort around them, excited about the adventure ahead, but aware of the enormity of the task before them.
Then chapter 2 happens. In chapter 2, there is often a “going under.” Under the water, under the ground. Some sort of death, or dire circumstance where escape or deliverance appears unlikely. Chapter 2 often looks like the end of the story.
But, if our hero survives chapter two, often they have learned something about themselves that helps them to achieve their goal. In addition, upon returning home, they tend to become a gift to their community.
In both of the books I’ve been going through, this hero’s journey has been used to describe the journey each one of us is on. You have a life…an incredible gift…what are you doing with it?
A couple of thoughts I’ve had in thinking about the hero’ journey afterwards…
Chapter 1…I could live here.
Everybody likes chapter 1.
The first part of chapter 1 is where we are just out living out lives. Or as Jesus put it, eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and being giving in marriage…everyday stuff of life.
In fact, we like chapter 1 so much, it is common for us to try to stay there. ‘I’m no hero, I’m just trying to live a good life, be a good person and have enough to be comfortable.’ (Plus, we’ve heard some of the stories of chapter 2, and why on earth would anyone want to do that?)
At the same time, we love to hear you tell your stories of the journey you see in front of you. It’s exiting…we may even decide to come with you. And we’ll pray for you…because you are going to need it. (of course there will be some who tell you to be realistic…keep your head down…don’t get too big for your britches, but some do sincerely want you to make it.)
As much as we like chapter 1, we love chapter 3. We love to hear about the victory you won…how the world is better because of it.
In fact, at this point, we want to hear your chapter 2 stories as well…and actually the darker chapter 2 was for you, the better at this point…because you’ve overcome it.
Getting the order correct: 1, 3, 2
When Hannah was first learning to count, it went something like this:
Me: “Say 1, 2, 3.”
Hannah: “1, 3, 2.”
Me: “No. Say 1.”
Me: “Great. Now 1, 2, 3.”
Hannah: “1, 3, 2.”
Hannah’s way of counting back then was just like how we want to hear stories.
Don’t tell us chapter 2 while you are in the midst of it. Doing that stirs up all kinds of stuff that we don’t really want to address. Don’t tell us about chapter 2, until we know how the story ends.
I have some thoughts on our aversion to chapter 2…but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that chapter .
Also published on Medium.