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The Hero's Journey

"You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential."

-Joseph Campbell

I recently went to a writer's conference and in one of the classes we talked about Joseph Campbell’s famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Joseph Campbell was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence University, and he wrote and taught about the human experience. His work is helpful to writers and I believe anyone trying to see meaning in their life’s journey.

Are you living a life you would consider a hero’s journey? There are 10 stages:

1. This ordinary world. It’s different for all of us, but it represents our normal habits, customs and beliefs.

2. The call to adventure. This is your quest, your life’s mission. Most people refuse it because of their fear of change. You either embark on the adventure or forever remain in the ordinary world with its illusion of security.

3. Cross the first threshold. The point of no return. You take the leap in writing a book, transforming your health, or become a yoga instructor, etc.

4. Trials, friends, foes. The hero encounters his obstacles. Negative family or friends, rejection, destructive naysayers. Because few people complete their hero’s journey to mature adulthood, most people will unconsciously attempt to sabotage yours.

5. Magical mentors. The hero finds a wise leader, a Yoda, a teacher who aids you and inspires you on your journey. Or simply the inner voice to your higher self.

6. Dragons lair. The hero encounters his greatest obstacle. The most painful obstacle. A death, a challenge that seems impossible and almost breaks you, but doesn’t.

7. Moment of despair. The hero is on his last leg. He loses hope and it seems like his end is without hope, but he journeys on.

8. Ultimate treasure. The hero slays the dragon and gets his reward. Whether the reward is monetary, physical, romantic, or spiritual, the hero transforms.

9. Homeward bound. The hero begins his journey back changed, but still with some left over issues not resolved.

10. Rebirth and the champion's return. The hero returns to the ordinary world. Usually there is one more battle and moment of despair, maybe even harder than the one before. I. this final stage the hero can be a master of both worlds.

Where are you in your journey ? Sometimes it helps to have a road map and when we know others have gone this way before and prevailed, we will get the courage to get our holy grail and return home a hero.

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