Nowadays, the movie industry seems to be saturated with super-hero movies. To the point where there is hardly anything else that receives real attention. But what is it that makes these types of movies so successful? Sure, there are awesome special effects of all kinds. But that alone, doesn’t justify their immense popularity, especially with the younger generations. So why do we feel drawn to these movies? What makes us so excited about them? What is it that fires us up?
I believe the answers to all of these questions, lie in the way we can deeply relate to the stories and heroes, which these movies bring us. For they touch on a deeper, hidden part of ourselves – one which perhaps hasn’t been engaged since the time we were children. We relate to their message, as they actually speak to our own life’s circumstances, challenges, and suffering.
These stories and their heroes, ultimately bring us back in touch with the real, untapped power, which has always been at the core of our being, but which only got obscured over time, by all the shoulds and shouldn’ts of society. The gift they bring, is that of igniting the unsuspected inner resources which have lied dormant, deep inside of our being, waiting to be activated.
In seeing the super-hero on the screen, we recognise the super-hero in ourselves. We see our own life’s trials and tribulations, in theirs. We lean towards heroes that have qualities which most resemble our own, and we gravitate towards the life-stories we connect with the most, as they remind us of our own demons, which we have to transcend, in order to move forward.
A universal story
This brings me to Joseph Campbell – one of the most prominent figures in world mythology, a man who has studied the stories, myths and legends of cultures across the world.
In doing this, Joseph Campbell made an astounding discovery: no matter where on Earth he looked, the stories, myths and legends of cultures which have never been in contact with each other, all shared a common basic layout. This blueprint, is what we now refer to as The Hero’s Journey.
While we might think of a story’s timeline as something linear, Joseph Campbell describes The Hero’s Journey as being circular, a cycle, which you can imagine as a clock dial, generally divided into the following segments:
- Status quo
- Call to adventure
- New life
This blueprint, underlies all the major blockbuster movies that we love: Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Avatar, etc.
For they all speak of a being who receive the call, while living his/her normal life – their status quo. They then receive assistance, in the form of tools and/or allies, before setting out on a quest to achieve their goal. During their journey, they go through various trials and perils, which ultimately prepare them for the final showdown – dealing with their biggest nemesis, which stands in between them, and that which they came for.
This is their moment of crisis, which they have to transcend, in order to be granted their treasure. Once they have achieved their goal, they return to the place where their journey started, as a changed being. They now live in a new, upgraded reality, and have a gift which they can share with those around them – their story.
“The cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek.”― Joseph Campbell
Even though on some level, we might also be experiencing our own hero’s journey in the outside world (as our favourite heroes do), the real hero’s journey takes place within.
We come into this world with all the inner qualities we need, in order to fulfill our mission, and achieve our purpose. We are connected to ourselves, and embody the love, happiness, and peace, which are already in the very fabric of our being. But then society comes along with its conditioning, which we receive through family, school, religion, and we drift further and further away from who we really are.
We thus eventually get so removed from our essence, that we lose sight of ourselves altogether, and begin to misidentify with all the layers and masks we’ve collected over the course of our lifetime. We mistakenly come to live as our minds, bodies, emotions, and thoughts, without having the slightest idea, that there is an “I AM“, forgotten underneath it all.
Then one day, just as we unknowingly sink further and deeper into our ego-created problems, we hear the call. We hear that faint voice that is the voice of our own true being, knocking faintly on the thick walls which have encased it. Our own true voice is timidly speaking, and is letting us know that it is still there. So we listen to it for a brief moment in time, and allow ourselves to glimpse a different reality – one which we truly want to be living – only to then dismiss it as our hopeless, wishful thinking.
We then sink back into our misery, suffering, and unhealthy lifestyle, while reaching outside of ourselves, for increasingly more things that distract us from all our demons. But as our pain gets deeper, that which was initially a faint voice knocking on our inner walls, grows louder, more persistent, and will not stop, until its call is finally answered.
And that, is where our own hero’s journey begins. There once was…
“You must give up the life you planned, in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”― Joseph Campbell
This, is what our favourite books and movies are all about. This, is why we find them so powerful. For this, is what our life really is – a Hero’s Journey.
In the hope that this has inspired you just enough to continue looking into this fascinating, universal, human story, I would like to share with you two brilliant resources, which have greatly opened my eyes towards it:
In this wonderful book, Rhonda Byrne (author of The Secret) gives us an insightful look into all stages of the Hero’s Journey, and shows us how they speak to our own life, through the real-life stories of seemingly ordinary people, who have chosen to answer their call, and follow their bliss.
Finding Joe is a tremendous documentary about the Hero’s Journey, which might just inspire you to find your courage, and finally make that first small step, towards creating the life that you really want to be living.