We are all familiar with the word hero. In fact, a specific image or person often comes to mind such as a fireman, aid worker or a doctor. Or maybe a fictional character such as Ulysses, Eowyn, Mark Antony, Jane Eyre, Batman, or Katniss Everdeen. Weather they are from a comic book, myth, film, literature, fiction or real life we identify with, and root for the good guy.
A movie I saw recently opened my eyes to the vast complexities and often extremely daunting journey of the hero. The classic hero’s adventure is unglamorous, physically taxing, mentally draining and above all else darn near spiritually crushing. A hero is conflicted, flawed, and tragic.
A hero will make mistakes, that often costs them dearly. A hero is also isolated with only a few people close to them; people they often hurt at some point or another. A hero does not win every fight. Sometimes the hero is beat down so fiercely that there is nothing left and a rebirth must occur. Facing their own fear and death is frequently the only remaining path the hero must take before rising like a phoenix for the final battle.
The hero is such an iconic figure we have given him/her god like status. Forcing them to make choices for the greater good and to be the scapegoat that is often needed to save humanity.
I greatly admire that the hero’s journey is a classic and iconic tale. The great American mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell introduced the hero’s journey into popular culture with his book, A Hero With A Thousand Faces. This work has been referenced by many people including film maker George Lucas, choreographer Martha Graham, novelist Richard Adams and countless others. *
My mother was a literature and mythology professor and she introduced me to the classic hero’s journey. I consider parts of my life to be my hero’s journey. My passage through dance and finding my artistic voice. Making my way as a teacher and learning just as much as I’m teaching. Pushing my body (and mind) through difficult dance and fitness related training. Working my way through the labyrinth of my constructed self and imprinted behaviors.
I have had the tremendous opportunity to work with a Yoda Master (as it were) on my journey through life. One can truly venture down some dark paths if one is open for the possibility of growth and really letting go. I welcome the chance to meet my demons, because we all have them, regardless if you acknowledge them or not. It’s what lies on the other side that is compelling to me. The chance to live and love better, to my fullest capacity. It’s the suffocation of a stagnate life that I fear the most. When I cease to grow, shift, and learn then my life’s journey is over.
Each of us has the capacity to take the road less traveled. Every day offers a plethora of opportunities to make the harder choice. I, personally return to the notion that by taking the difficult path, there is a chance for growth and building of self worth. An experience that is seldom regretted.
A hero has great courage and willingness to take the harder and darker path. Often because it is the right choice. A favorite literary hero of mine is often overshadowed by the main character, but I love them both. I’d like to close with a few insightful quotes from Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter).
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy . . .”
“It’s the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”