On to today's topic, and that is, being the hero of your own life!
We're going to talk a bit about the Hero's Journey, a distillation of principled steps from the Monomyth by Joseph Campbell. If you've ever had a high school or college level class on creative writing, film, or game design, you've probably heard of these terms before. If you have not, basically Joseph Campbell distilled common elements from many different myths from all around the world into a single process of storytelling, where the hero follows a prescribed path consisting of certain steps. Not all steps have to be included, but they provide a basic framework. The Hero's Journey is found in modern culture quite often, in movies such as the original Star Wars trilogy with Luke Skywalker, or the most recent film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, in this case with both Aragorn and Frodo(borrowing different parts of the journey).
So how does this pertain to you? Well, my friend, we're going to learn how to make you the hero of your own story. We're going to be walking through the summary provided here, and applying it to your everyday life.
Let's begin, shall we?
The Call to Adventure
The call to adventure is the start of your journey. Calls to adventure come from everywhere if we know where to look for them, but if you're here, the call to adventure probably came from within you. You seek something, to be like a character from your childhood, perhaps, or to live in a world of epics and fantasy. Whatever the reason, you're here, looking to change your life, and beginning a journey.
Refusal of the Call
Maybe this isn't the first time you've heard this call. Maybe you've tried to change your life before, and failed, discouraged. Maybe you haven't tried before, out of fear, uneasiness, or lack of conviction. If this is the case, then bravo for making it this far. You've already begun to commit to a new adventure, you can do this! Never give up, never surrender.
Once the hero has accepted the call to adventure, their guide/mentor/spirit appears. Think Navi, but less annoying. Or GLaDOS, but less lethal. But we have a hard time with the supernatural in the real world, so what have you got? Well, for starters, there's this blog. I am anything but supernatural, but the internet is a pretty cool thing, and I'm definitely here to help you with whatever I can. Additionally, there's tons of other like-minded people here, with more coming every day. You're not alone, and you've got help if you need it. All of the game character breakdowns are there to provide you with a path to begin following.
Crossing the Threshold
This is the point where the hero has begun his or her adventure, stepped through the magic portal, and into a realm where the rules and laws they once lived by mean nothing, and the unknown is prevalent everywhere. This is a scary first step. If you're beginning a drastic change to your lifestyle, there's a lot of unknowns you're going to have to deal with. Take it easy, and break it into chunks. Remember what we talked about with New Year's Part 1 and Part 2, about setting goals and making a plan, and the difference between the two.
The Belly of the Whale
The old world is gone, and the hero is in a new world of adventure and mystery. The old world ties have been recognized and severed, and the hero is truly in the lurch. Different from crossing the threshold, this is the moment after you have made that initial decision, and truly taken that first step. You just got through your first week of transitions, and you recognize how much your life is going to change.
Working out on a regular basis is a new thing for you, you still aren't sure if you're doing it correctly or not, and it's too soon to see much of a result. Or, you've decided to make a mental change, going for more confidence, perhaps, or to seek inner peace, or become a better leader. You've begun to step outside your comfort zone, and you suddenly see the mountain of a journey between you and your goal.
This can be a scary and discouraging point sometimes. Take heart, though! Life itself is a journey. You're going to be going in a direction, regardless of what you choose or don't choose to do. Why not make that direction up? "If all you can do is crawl, start crawling." - Rumi
Look at your life as a journey, an adventure, and something new to experience every single day. You have a roadmap laid out before you with The Hero's Journey, lay out your framework yourself, and follow it. This is only Part One, we will be breaking down the other two stages, Intitiation and Return, in coming posts. For now, take a moment, and see where you are along this starting path. Look back at Your Life as an RPG, and make up a character sheet for yourself. Seriously! Write down levels you want to attain, experience points and small missions to get there, and so on.
For instance, this year, one of the things I want to do is begin to become fluent in spanish. I've always understood a smattering of it, but I want to make a really solid push this year. So I'm going to lay it out as such:
Dan Wallace, Level 21(arbitrary level number, lulz)
Every 200 XP is a new level!
Quest: Acquire the Tongue of the Spaniard
Acquire Pimsleur Learning Spanish Volume 1, 2, and 3
Reward: 50 XP
Complete Spanish Volume 1
Reward: 150 XP
Complete Spanish Volume 2
Reward: 100 XP
- Side quest: Hold several conversations with a native speaker Reward: 100 XP
Complete Spanish Volume 3
Reward: 100 XP
Visit a country where Spanish is the native language. Engage the locals, and try not to speak any english during visit!
Reward: 300 XP
There! I've laid out a quest line for myself. You can see, if I finish the whole quest line, I'm able to gain four levels. This may sound kind of silly, but seriously, try charting your progress like this! I think I'm going to start laying out a character sheet for myself, actually, I think that would be a lot of fun! Maybe I'll do a post about it...
That's it for today. We'll be revisiting the Hero's Journey in the days to come, as well as a Week 1 progress update for Jackie and myself on our current year-long quest of better physical health(again, outline in New Year's Part 1 and Part 2) Tomorrow we cover Initiation! Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter, like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!
Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace