Have you ever felt all alone and profoundly wondered if your life really mattered, or if you had any kind of destiny awaiting unfoldment?
As you go on, you will find that each of us has a unique life story that intersects every other life story, such that if anyone’s life story was erased, ours would be incomplete. If you press this thinking to its logical conclusion, you will realize that there is only THE ONE, and each of us mirrors that Self in a perpetual kaleidoscope.
Each of us is a hero in his or her own way. We survived the trauma of our own birth, and went on to experience infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The great psychiatrist, Otto Rank, pointed out that this is not a trivial accomplishment.
We began as an invisible dot within our mother’s womb and began to take shape in a quiet paradise of amniotic fluid, only to be rudely awakened when we were forced out into the open air and the cord linking us to our mother was severed.
We start out with our family and home community, along with a particular set of talents and challenges, and must literally rise up and walk, learn words and just how to function in human society. We make childhood friends and sometimes enemies, and learn the adult game in an ever more refined fashion, until we feel ready to strike out on our own.
We go through a vast array of experiences to individuate ourselves to become the person we were meant to be in a transformational character arc, which becomes, both our story, and a universal story embedded in world mythology, literature, theatre and film.
We grow into adults through a complex process of initiation.
The great mythologist, Joseph Campbell, popularized this as the hero’s journey, starting as a professor at Sarah Lawrence, a woman’s college, and publishing “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Campbell pioneered the field of comparative mythology and taught the young ladies in his class the meaning of life, giving them the code to unravel the mysteries embedded in mythology.
Joe saw myth in a positive light, not as a lie, but as a way of expressing a truth that cannot be expressed as well in any other way. He married one of his students, Jean Erdman, a ballerina, and proceeded to plunge himself into the arts.
Years later, George Lucas, who stunned the world with his original saga, Star Wars, credited Joseph Campbell with making THE difference in his successfully writing and producing his ultimate space epic.
From there, Campbell’s fame grew exponentially. Campbell was immortalized in his mid-80’s by Bill Moyer in his classic, “Power of Myth,” the most popular documentary of all time and an instant classic.
A standard sequence of adventures was disclosed to the public, which functions as a map to help each of us move through life with a keen sense of the nature of the adventure we have chosen for ourselves.
In this way, we can identify where we are and what to expect in any phase of our life. Campbell continually emphasized that we are here to follow our bliss, what makes us truly happy, and that the adventure we confront is our ticket to experiencing what it means to be fully alive.
The essence of the journey entails an urgent call away from our everyday life and ordinary world to another, more exotic world, often an internal world.
Usually an inciting incident occurs that motivates us to explore this new possibility despite our initial reluctance. We encounter at just the right moment our mentor, who helps us cross the threshold into that new realm.
In this new world, we undergo tests, form alliances and combat enemies, approaching an inner chamber where we go through a foretaste of death, while discovering a whole new, transformed Self.
Often we receive a reward of some type that we carry back to us to share with our friends and family, becoming a guru or mentor ourselves. (The word “guru” actually means light bearer, one who holds the light forth for humanity).
Related topic: Who AM I?
1. Dissatisfaction with our ordinary world, as Luke Skywalker does at the opening of Star Wars.
2. Receiving a call to adventure, as Luke does in receiving the holographic message from Princess Leia to join the rebellion.
3. Refusing the call as crazy or much too dangerous.
4. Meeting with the Mentor, as Luke Skywalker meets with the Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
5. Crossing the Threshold, as Luke leaves the ranch after his parents are incinerated by the Evil Empire.
6. Encountering Tests, Allies, Enemies, as Luke goes to the cantina and meets the motley crew of space explorers, including Han Solo, boards the StarCraft with Obi-Wan and learns to fight with a lightsaber, as does any good Jedi Knight.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave, which, in Luke’s case, is the Death Star.
8. Undergoing a Central Ordeal, as Luke meets up with Princess Leia, and they, along with Han Solo, both get caught up in the Trash Masher.
9. Claiming the reward, which, in Luke’s case, is successfully detonating and destroying the Death Star, which had threatened to annihilate the Republic.
10. The Road Back, which entails returning triumphantly to the Republic Freedom Fighters.
11. Resurrection, which, for Luke, entails being reunited with Princess Leia, whom we find out in a future episode, is his sister.
12. Return with the Elixir, which for Luke, Han Solo and Princess Leia, is ultimate honor and acclamation by the Republic, and the dawning realization by Han that he is in love with Princess Leia.
Most of us will go through a series of stages in life much like this.
You may feel that you are very, very far from being Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia in the ultimate sci-fi epic. You sure wish that you had one of their Jedi lightsabers! However, you have the ability to receive inspiration and become who you were truly meant to be and return to your world.
As Campbell once said: “Follow your bliss. Find it where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
Each of us is human AND divine. The journey is all about discovering our divinity, and the power of love to awaken that divinity in everyone within our own world.
Joseph Campbell referred to being a “master of two worlds,” or, as Jesus Christ put it, being “in the world, but not of the world.”
Nobel Prize-winning poet, T.S. Eliot, in Four Quartets, wraps it all up this way:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning…
Are YOU following your bliss? Have you figured out your life map? Share with us in the comments area below.