Based on my work in July related to The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell, I am giving a seminar for some colleagues of mine tomorrow. It's the first time I have been a facilitator in this way, so I'm excited about it and curious to see what the outcome will be.
The three main features of this famous pattern describing the myths and legends in all cultures are The Call, The Journey and the Return. In actuality, Campbell described many more typical parts to the Hero's Journey, but in relation to team-building and community-building work, these are the significant three.
I remember being presented with Greek myths for the first time when I was in grade school and getting lost in the details, the genealogy of mythical creatures and heroes. You know, so and so, son of Zeus, brother of someone else, uncle to another and half-brother to...etc. It made my head swim, and I totally missed the point of what myths could teach me. My loss, for sure.
Obviously, myths have been important to humankind for a few thousand years. All cultures have mythical heroes and heroines whose actions serve as metaphor for our own struggles, journeys and ideas. What I learned in July, though, was explained in such a way that it seemed as if I was getting the message for the very first time in my life. That is, very often in our culture we are not asked for and do not process meaning in our travels, our work, and our lives.
We are asked, "What happened? Where did you go?" But these questions lead to a recapitulation of the string of events that we encountered, not what they meant to us. Too often people go through an experience and are expected to move on, get over it, feel better, cheer up. So, the exact opposite happens. We lose the valuable opportunity to gain wisdom through reflection and interchange with a community that matters to us. Depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction or even anger may result, and we don't usually make the connection to the cause.
If we are asked instead, "What changed for you because of what you went through?" or "What did you learn?" and have a chance to be heard and to speak, the journey is of value, and we experience transformation or self-actualization and fulfillment. Life feels more worth living because we gain perspective and wisdom.
We'll be talking about this tomorrow and we'll find out what each of us are in the middle of, literally and metaphorically speaking. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. I'll tell you what I learn when I return. Meanwhile, see if you are at a turning point or significant moment in your life somehow. It might be helpful to relate it to the Hero's Journey and reframe your experiences in a whole different way.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way