Monday, January 11, 2016

When A Journey Chooses You

My weekly reflections on Journey continues…...
(For background, refer to January 3 entry.)

Who comes to mind when you think of a hero? Anyone like this?

This little guy surfaced when I googled "heroes examples." Not quite what I had expected, but I like him! He's dressed the stereotypical part - weapons at the ready - even a coordinated vest and cape outfit. But the detail that appeals to me most is the expression on his face. Can you see his mouth? It's tilted in an "I'm-not-too-sure-about-this" kind of way. And his eyes, one slightly higher than the other. If we could see his eyebrows, one would be elevated. Unsure. Maybe even frightened. But, there he stands.

Joseph Campbell - American author, scholar, mythologist - published a book in 1949 (new edition in 2008) titled, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

He writes of the "hero's journey," a pattern found throughout world mythologies, in which an archetypal hero follows three basic steps: Departure, Initiation, Return. Star Wars' creator, George Lucas, relied heavily on Campbell's work. His main character, Luke Skywalker, an unlikely hero himself, set out on a personal quest and ended up saving the Galaxy.

Photo credit: BBC
In a recent TED Radio Hour (December 18, 2015) broadcast, "The Hero's Journey," four speakers shared their unique experiences as journeyers. One was Dame Ellen MacArthur. In 2005 she became the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe, in a sailboat, nonstop, solo. Twenty-six thousand miles in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 33 seconds.

A monumental and heroic accomplishment, to be sure; but it was a comment she made at the end of her talk that captured my attention even more.

"You're not brave to take on something you choose. I think real bravery is taking on something that you don't choose like young people in recovery from cancer or leukemia or, you know, people who lose a close friend. You then have to deal with something that you have no idea how to deal with - you cannot in any way prepare for. And, for me, they're the heroes. And they're the unsung heroes, but they're the heroes."

Three friends of mine have recently begun journeys, not of their own choosing. Two lost husbands to cancer, another to an accident. The Departure stage of their journeys was unplanned - no time to put on armor, grab the sword, outfit a yacht with supplies for 71 days, or plan a personal quest. Perhaps they feel somewhat like our little hero with the red cape. Yet, like him, they show up. And take steps forward, day by day, with uncommon bravery and strength.

Heroines of their own journeys!!  

Ann, Jan and Mary Beth



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