Call to Adventure- The Hero’s Journey

Tei of Rogue Ink has just written a super uber-excellent article on writing –Save Your World. Write. It kinda works like a how-to-get-started writing article but written in such an insightful manner with a fast upbeat flow that it doesn’t feel that it’s lecturing what to do.

Writing inspires more writing. It’s a cycle –and a good one that ought to never cease like for example, this piece I’ve written below was inspired by her post.

Read on…

Joseph Campbell talks about a hero’s call to adventure, the starting point of the hero’s quest in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In the Power of Myth, he said, “That’s why it’s good to be able to put yourself in situations that will evoke your higher nature rather than your lower.” That’s why Campbell’s my man.

Folks, we live in a couch potato society. Our bums are so worn out flat from constantly sitting down and staring at the ubiquitous flat screens. Our eyes are straining. We are gasping for breath. We’re stuck in a dead-end job we hate but we bear to make ends meet and feed the kids. We got tight deadlines. Reports. We come in super early in the morning and work late through the night. We gulp down that caffeine and sleep under our desks at nights. Overtime. Then we wake up and repeat the next day. By then we are choked and we want to get out of there and fly but we’re imprisoned in our cubicle, barred by our front door and locked in our own personal cage.

We live in The Waste Land –“a sociological stagnation of inauthentic lives and living that has settled upon us’ (Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth). In other words, routine. A monotonous boring life. It “evokes nothing of our spiritual life, our potentialities or even our physical courage’ (Ibid). How can physical courage arise staring at spreadsheets for hours? Or marking paper after paper? Friends, the Fisher King cannot produce. Fertility is gone. There is no birth. No growth. We are stuck not in a cycle of death and rebirth but a cycle of mind-numbing stagnant dullness. Our fates are like that of Sybil (the prophetess in the Greek myth with Apollo, not the one with split personalities).

No wonder Monster Camp, Dungeons and Dragons and RPGs are popular and have struck a cord with people. Deep down we have an innate need to be heroes. We look back with nostalgia at the Dark Ages and wish to be those knights going off in search of the Holy Grail and forgetting the fact that they never have the comforts of indoor plumbing. Or become seafarers traveling to unexplored terrains for spice, silk, gold and a big chest full of treasure and fight bloody pirates and become part of a nefarious mutiny involving Long John Silver. Never mind that sailors in those days seldom take baths and lice, rats and other parasites abound in ships and that good pirate novels never care to mention where these guys take a dump. We want adventure for god’s sake! For once in our lives, we’d like the courage to do something stupid and outrageous like throwing our computers out of the window from the 42nd floor, walk out of the office and buy a one way ticket to go on that very same day to Madagascar. It’s as close as we’ll ever get to riding the Firebolt up in Hogwarts.

I’m saying this now because I’m afraid I’m becoming the prophetess, Sybil. I can feel myself sinking in that quicksand of despair and soon it would almost be impossible to escape. I’m getting sucked into the rat race, the 9-5 (nowadays, the 9-9), papers stacked up till they reached the ceiling and my mind annoyingly humming, “Backlog! Backlog!”. Because rather than have a ball and chain wrapped around my feet, stuck to the desk, marking papers, I’d really like to go out there, fly and embark on my own hero’s journey. To fight with Balrogs, sail with Sparrowhawk, swing from tree to tree with Mowgli, battle the Dark, hide with the lost Boys and see the Wizard of Oz….

Wouldn’t that be just cool?

The call of adventure still beckons!


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