We have used the word hero to describe Olympic athletes, combat soldiers and people that have saved others from harm. These exemplify moments of heroism, but it is not an act or a single attribute of greatness that makes a hero. It is a journey, a connection to a collective myth. It is not another man’s story; it is the Human’s story. Once we make conscious this journey, we no longer require the external reward or the masses’ admiration. We see we are enough and we can seize the opportunities that are laid on our path. We recognize the people and the synchronicities that are in front of us and what they have to offer. But without conscious awareness of the voyage, we perceive that the rewards are only for those who are worthy. We hold up deeds or misplace our admiration and lose sight of the fact that all of us are on a Hero’s Journey.
The word hero originated in Ancient Greece during a time when many believed heroes were partly of divine origin. Heroes were considered demigods, born from a mortal and a God. They journey was one into death and then the story of their life became a tale of triumph and myth. They were held up as a beacon of hope, protection and morality in the face of adversity and challenge, having their wits and courage tested even to the point of death. The hero’s good deeds did not go unnoticed by the Gods. From their behavior all others were modeled and used as a barometer. From this moment, we already began to separate ourselves from heroism. Their acts were some how only available to those who possessed the power of the immortal and could never be attained by the common man.
Modern Day Hero
Today’s hero may not be of divine descent like in ancient times, but we still do separate ourselves from those receiving this honor. This stems from what we perceive as valuable in society. Watching the Olympics, I am reminded of this distorted view. A competitor who endures multiple surgeries only to sustain their peak for one more season, while ensuring a lifetime of suffering in their later years. We deem them a hero, but are we mistaking the term hero with the word idol? In order to reclaim the word hero, we need to differentiate between idolatry and heroism. The truth is we value more the feat, than the person. We focus on the outcome rather than the journey of self-transformation. We revel in false admiration creating this idea that the hero’s story is for other people - exceptional people. Relinquishing our responsibility to claiming our own power. In truth, that medal or that goal is only but a small feat in their story. For no myth ever begins or ends with a single triumph or failure.
The Hero’s Fall
We have seen the fall of many of our modern heroes because of our propensity towards idolatry. The public is so disappointed when they fail to meet our expectations. It is a long hard fall from their pedestal, and we don’t hang around long enough to see them get back up. When our attention span is only as long as the next news cycle, we find a comfort in their demise because we have created separation. In our cynicism, we find justification to lose hope in our own goodness and the possibility for success. Thinking to ourselves, “If they can’t do it, what hope do we have?” But what if success is not measured by external rewards? What if it is measured instead, by the transformation of the heart? Humans are perfect in their imperfection. It is what drives us to learn the lessons of the soul. Their story is our story. A hero who doesn’t fail or fall means we are only privy to one act of their tale.
The Long Journey Whole
Joseph Campbell outlined in great detail the Hero’s Journey. From his call to action, and his departure of his comfortable world. He encounters supernatural aid and decides whether to heed adventure’s call. To his initiation and then trekking into the unknown where is meets his enemies, adversaries and moves through death and faces his greatest fears. The hero must be confronted with a series of tests and temptations that challenge all aspects of who he is. Along the way he encounters other archetypes such as the shapeshifter, the guardian, the mentor and the temptress (to name only a few).
At some point in this journey the hero reaches the point of revelation and further transforms and completes his resurrection. This cycle of birth, death and rebirth is a signature of the Hero’s Journey. Finally, the hero returns home, bestowed with the wisdom of his voyage and desire to use it for the betterment of humanity. This is a story that we all go through; most of us are unconsciously moving through it. We are reacting instead of co-creating.
Choosing Your Epic Journey
Imagine if you were to embrace your version of the Hero’s Journey. How would that change your life? You would begin to see those archetypal figures you encounter and learn from their appearance in your story. Noticing that they appear over and over. They would be your teachers and your guides. All of a sudden those patterns in circumstance and the repetition in your relationships would begin to make sense. You could decode the messages and the messengers that cross your path. You would relish in gratitude for the small acts of grace and synchronicities in daily life. You could see the divine timing in the hardships and the orchestration in times when things just come together seamlessly.
We waste so much of our time berating ourselves for past behavior. Could you then see your mistakes for what they are – an opportunity and maybe even a necessity on your path of growth and development? What prevent us from really engaging in this journey is reliving and lamenting on our imperfection. We are too scared to take risks and too encumbered by self-doubt to follow our hearts. If we can see the bigger picture, that we are living the mythology of humankind, we can be compassionate with ourselves and empathize with one another. We can foster self-love and cultivate meaning in the small moments. This allowing us to shift our perceptions of the world and welcome adventure and adversity, holding ourselves accountable for where we want to go. We could consciously engage in our very own epic journey. A story worthy of the ages.
Angela Levesque is writer, healer and health educator. She hosts On Health & Healing and House of Iris Radio on a2zen.fm. Angela works with clients doing intuitive lifestyle coaching and Reconnective Healing and teaches several classes on self-care, meditation & weight loss. Visit www.hestiahealth.com for more information. Find her on https://twitter.com/HestiaHealth and http://www.facebook.com/hestiahealth.