Yesterday I found myself in a place of deep cleansing of the self, which began with being coached and ended with viewing the film Finding Joe (Spiritual Cinema Circle, 2012, Vol. 7). Based on the work of Joseph Campbell's monomyth or Hero's Journey, this poignant film interweaves the voices of some current thinkers around the importance of story in our lives and how we are all on a hero's journey--essentially how we are all heros in our own lives. The hero's journey pervades all stories past and present, in which we might find likeness to our own: "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." (Campbell, 1949, p. 49).
This beautiful offering by Spiritual Cinema Circle is about our humanity. It starts with the premise that we receive what Campbell says is a call to adventure, which signifies that destiny has summoned the hero. It is a call to action, that keeps coming back until that call is answered. This call to action often comes in the depths of our despair, presenting at once, danger and opportunity. Danger because we fear it--we fear what that call is telling us. For some it may be losing a loved one, an illness or accident, or it may be a lost job or relationship. And opportunity because we have the chance to transcend our pain and move to a greater height.
And sometimes that fear can keep us from rising up and out of our muck and murkiness. In Finding Joe, fear is said to be the one thing that keeps us from our mountaintop. Yet in this instance, in this pain resides the possibility for renewal and rebirth. According to Finding Joe, we must die in our old form in order to rise from: "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned so as to have the life that's waiting for us." (Joseph Campbell).
So begins the journey of following your bliss, slaying dragons (usually the dragons within), facing your fear and going beyond it. Campbell calls this Initiation where we work to resolve a conflict, usually inner. I especially loved the words of one thinker who says: "Every minus is a plus waiting for that stroke." The film summarizes the Return, with the notion that the hero brings back a story. So we all have a story. It might seem bigger than us, it might be fraught with pain and sadness, but that story informs who we are and is the treasure. It speaks of our capability to transcend adversity as we show up big and courageous and live to tell about it.
The hero's journey is really a developmental process through transition. A life event occurs, which is our call to adventure or action, we experience that initiation involving "slaying dragons" or finding a way to come to terms, and then we return (home)...the journey begins again, this time with new insights and enlightenment--your story.
How does your call to adventure find you: is it with a nudge, a tap or a sledgehammer? What dragons do you need to slay, that if slayed, will put you closer to your mountaintop? How can you claim your bliss?