How to Live the Hero’s Journey

HerosJourneyBlogCover

What a terrible thing it is to grow up without a single alien invasion or zombie apocalypse. If you’re like me, then in all the years since you were born, never has your home town been attacked by a ginormous space beetle or fire breathing trampoline. No old men have imparted unto you any words of wisdom that would help you to slay a rampaging Lochness Monster/Vampire hybrid. Nor has destiny itself handed to you the Sacred Sword of Vancouver, so that you, and only you, could take down the hover-boarding wizard of miscellaneous evil doings.

No sith, no borg, no green goblins… Not even a Prince Humperdink. Where are all the simple, in your face villains?

I know. It’s not that you want the people around you to be in danger. Quite the opposite in fact. But if there is no T-rex stomping around town, gleefully gobbling up pedestrians, then what are you supposed to fight? How are you supposed to develop your courage, find meaning in your life, and ultimately save the world?

Shortly before he died, the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, gave an interview where he answered exactly that question. Campbell is loved around the world by millions for his work on deciphering human stories, their commonalities and meaning. His teachings about the hero’s journey are basically required reading for novelists and screenwriters alike, and even Star Wars was based off of his ideas.

According to Campbell, stories are and always have been a way of explaining unexplainable truths to people, giving us a metaphor for how to live our lives. But we must not get “stuck in the metaphor” he says. In real life, the hero’s journey is not about going out and saving the world by “shifting it around and changing the rules.” Instead the journey is simply this: to save ourselves. And “by saving ourselves, we end up saving the world.”

Now what does that mean?

In stories, the hero may literally go out to slay a dragon (or foul tempered bunny rabbit, or acid blooded alien, and so on), but in real life we don’t usually have the luxury of that kind of simplicity. There is no acid blooded alien hunting you and your goldfish (I hope). Instead, Campbell teaches that the acid blooded alien is in you. The “dragon” as he calls it, is your ego.

Ego = enemy (egomy).

But what precisely does he mean by ego? What is this mysterious enemy inside of us that we have to slay in order to save the world? Is it like that time that Lord Voldemort hid inside of Professor Quirrell and you could see his face all gross like on the back of his head?

Kind of but no. Okay not at all. In the simplest terms, the ego is everything that you think you are, but in fact are not. It is what your environment has moulded you to think/believe/desire/etc (all the crap that is covering up your true inner being). It is an incredibly fearsome enemy for most people, nebulous, hard to pin down, and even harder to vanquish, but Campbell believed it to be slayable in this one simple way. He called it “following your bliss.”

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Easy, happy, and well… blissful. Think again. For many people the battle is such a glorious and terrible affair that the ghost of William Wallace himself shows up to cheer them from the sidelines. It is no easy thing to listen to your heart. Not with the loud and insistent ego blathering on between your ears at all hours, tossing rainbow sparkles in your eyes with one hand and punching you in the nose with the other. And once you do finally realize what your heart is saying, find that hint of bliss to guide you, well then things get even worse. Because your bliss ends up not being what you wanted it to be, and now it just won’t shut up and leave you alone.

Seriously, what if your bliss wants you to trade your lawyer suit in for a green and purple striped onesy and red nose that honks? How is your perfectly manicured governor pop going to feel about that? What if your bliss is helping elephants in Africa but your life is here and Africa is scary, and there are scary things there, and no, you just don’t wanna go!

Just like in stories, in real life, the hero’s journey can be a very frightening thing. You must leave the world you know behind (spiritually and sometimes physically) and move into the unknown. And as it always is when things change, there will be trials, there will be fear, there will be doubt, and that is a good thing. That is where the hero in you is born. You come out the other side as the person that you were meant to be. Someone that is truly alive. Someone that has not only followed their bliss, but captured it, that are living it.

So here it all is, broken down into four not-so-simple steps:

Step one: Start listening for your bliss.
Step two: Do what your bliss tells you even if it’s really embarrassing/hard.
Step three: Keep doing what your bliss tells you and don’t stop even when it gets tough.
Step four: Make it through the hard times and joyfully light up the world.

Good luck hero!

Author: Eowyn Miral

Eowyn Miral This Side of Fearadise Author

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, then let me know! Press “like” or leave a comment, and of course, it’s always cool to share! Next week’s article “How to be Fearless. Advice from a Warrior Monk.”

“The presence of a vital person, vitalizes.”
(All quotes by Joseph Campbell)

Cover image by: Lucas Werneck (lucasgomes on Deviant Art)

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32 thoughts on “How to Live the Hero’s Journey

  1. Excellent start: reminded me of everyone who has ever read an adventure novel or watched an adventure movie. Reminds me I need to brush up on my Campbell. I’ve read and taught with *Hero With a Thousand Faces* (World Humanities at City College New York) Momo myth works just as well for Joseph as it does *Sundiata* and the old man from *The Old Man and the Sea*. It’s been decades since I read the book, and I didn’t do a lot of additional reading, but I always thought he was a Freudian via Jung, and the struggle would be with the id and superego, over the ego. But I’m so rusty on that anymore…. But the desire to be the hero is so very strong. I would suggest it drives people to extreme action, such as joining secret groups or jihad. (This is a thesis I’m working on, and will eventually get to. Months/years from now.) Still, it does cut to the core of much modern malaise.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The alien is in you, the dragon, the ego. YES!!!! Glad you are talking about this. There is very little written about this critical aspect of the film. Thank you for even addressing it at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hugely entertaining, apart from ‘slaying a rampaging Loch Ness Monster’! We Scots love Nessie, so leave her to menace the tourists, please.
    And informative too, so well done.
    I have visited Vancouver a couple of times in recent years, but never made it to your island, which I have heard is quite wondrous.
    Good luck being a hero, I find it overrated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol, very well. We’ll leave Nessie alone then 😉 I can’t wait to get over to there to explore Scotland one of these days. It is very near the top of my list of places to go

      Like

  4. You’ve brought great clarity to the Hero’s Journey concept with this article!

    I don’t know how you found Space, Time, and Raspberries, but thanks for following! I hope you’ll visit again to follow Elliot. Like you, he took off on his own Hero’s Journey in search of adventure, and has found a lot more than that along the way.

    Now that I’ve trekked with you from your hike across Vancouver Island to your unwitting trespass on Cat Cay, I have to ask: Did you crash on The Island, or have you spent your hiatus adventuring in the known world? What did you find in Vietnam? Sailed around the world yet? Have you settled in one place for a while? Are you and Marc still together? Will you be posting more frequently now?

    As an OG Star Trek fan — and I mean as one of the original series’ original fans — it’s easy to enjoy your nerdy references. The Hobbit and LoTR (the books first and then the Peter Jackson films) have been part of my life for more decades than you’ve lived. Star Wars, LOST, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Battlestar, Dr. Who, Orson Scott Card — all life-enriching, as you probably already know. 🙂

    Here’s to hearing more from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue! I’m so glad you enjoyed my posts! To answer your questions, Marc and I are still together. We had some awesome adventures in Vietnam and are now in Victoria BC planning future trips. I’m not totally sure but I will probably end up writing about the more exciting parts here. So awesome that you love so many of the same shows and books as me! Battlestar and Doctor Who I especially love and I’m so excited about the new female doctor! Also, I’m excited to check out Space, Time, and Raspberries soon and have it on my reading list!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s great to meet you, Eowyn. Please do write about your adventures here — especially the exciting parts! It’s about time there was a female Doctor. Of course she’s the 13th. The 9th was my first, but the 10th was my favorite, and I’ve watched every episode that’s available from the 1st to the 8th. Some of those guys were positively goofy. You and I also have sailing in common. I learned to sail on an Ericson 27, in and around San Diego and San Francisco, California. Never came as close to dying as you did, but we had some good times and close calls. When you get to my stuff on your reading list, I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed yours.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The 10th is my favourite too! I have yet to watch any of the seasons before the 9th. One day lol. It is such a pleasure to meet you as well 🙂 And very cool that you are into sailing!

      Like

  5. Great post, and so true. People see the success of others and are afraid to fail, not understanding that those successful people failed plenty of times.
    It’s hard to take risks, but it pays off. Right?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. On a more real level! This was great, not many understand this principle of thought. And it is repeated in our experience in everything within and without on a daily! Thank you for making me feel at home with your analytics. Not that that was the intention but if you can articulate this concept so nicely you are right there with me. Good article!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! You write so well Eowyn, I want to be able to string thoughts and observations together like you! Truly inspirational 😊 And now you’ve given me someone else to read about, Joseph Campbell; thank you 🙏🏽 I’m trying to follow my bliss as I travel: I’m not to sure what it is, but I’m on that journey👣

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you liked it Frazer, thank you! I was just checking out your blog and am really enjoying your writing as well. You make it so much fun. And yes, I definitely recommend Campbell. Good luck following your bliss!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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