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So today we’re moving into the second phase of our three-part series, Be the Hero of your Life. Part 1 is here. These posts are following the template of The Hero’s Journey, from the theory of The Monomyth by Joseph Campbell. Part one dealt with the “Departure” phase of the hero’s journey, today we move on to part two, “Initiation.”
The Road of Trials
The road of trials is the initial tests and tasks faced by the hero of the story, typically presented in sets of three, with at least one test or trial resulting in failure. In our own journey to emulate our favorite video game character, we will face many initial tests and trials. Changing a lifestyle is not easy, which is why whenever we talk about it, we talk about breaking it down into small steps. Think of each one of these little steps as a test on your own “Road of Trials.” Every day you will be tested and tried, especially in the beginning of your journey, when your body is resisting change. Keep in mind that failure is something that happens to everyone, even heroes, and that the true mark of champion is to keep going, even if you sometimes fail.
The Meeting with the Goddess
This part of the hero’s journey represents unconditional love, like a child’s love of their parent. It represents the beginning of the end of duality in the hero. This duality can be good and evil, selfishness and generosity, cruelty and compassion, or fear and courage. It can be external, in the finding of true love, or internal, in the hero’s own thoughts and feelings.
In changing our life, we deal with duality every single day. Your body and your mind likes habits, and dislikes change. Frequently you may feel as though you are at war with yourself(heck, I know I do). In order to complete your journey and change your life, however, you need to reconcile these differences within yourself. This doesn’t mean trying to squash your contrary side, however, you need to remember that this is a part of your, and a person divided can never really achieve full, lasting change with themself. You need to accept that this part of you exists, and rather than try to change it through force, woo it with gradual change, compromise, compassion, and forgiveness. Learn to love yourself, and everything else becomes easier.
Woman as the Temptress
In the male-dominated idea of the monomyth, occasionally the hero is tempted by a woman at the same time or shortly after his meeting with the goddess. The woman in these myths typically represents the hero’s base, earthly desires, rather than his divine calling. In the modern, non-male-dominated sense, this is the idea of how a hero’s base, animalistic instincts and urges can overrun their higher calling.
We must be careful, when trying to woo the more base, habit-and-instinct guided side of ourselves, that we do not become the woo’ee rather than the woo’er. Healthy compromise is saying, “I’m going to slowly cut down on the amount of junk food, week-to-week, to make it as painless as possible, and still leave open the option for the one-a-week treat.” Unhealthy compromise is, “Well I worked out extra hard this week, so I deserve an extra candy bar,” or, “I’ve been handling so many stressful situations lately, I deserve that extra cigarette.” Remember, the only thing that you deserve is a healthier, more balanced, and ultimately more fulfilling life.
Atonement with the Father
Again, in the patriarchal forming of the monomyth, the father represents the ultimate power, or deity, in the hero’s life. The power doesn’t have to be male, or even have a gender, though. This is the center point of the journey, all steps lead to, or from, it, and it is the reason for the hero’s journey. In order to complete their journey, the hero must face death, either literal, or metaphorical, at the hands of the great power, or as a result of the actions of the hero in reaction to the great power.
What, on our journey, is our great power, or “father?” This is kind of a personal question, as it has to do with the reason for beginning your journey. For me, my great power that I must atone with is the potential of life, and myself, in conjunction with the limited time we have, physically, on this planet. There is so much to see and do here, and so much that I feel I need to get done before I die, and no real way to know how much time I actually have here. In my life it’s driven me to the heights of frantic, overworked productivity, and to the depths of apathetic, hopeless depression.
Apotheosis, “The elevation of exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.“ This is what comes after the hero’s death. The hero moves past the division of divine and earthly desires, and division of the self, to enter into divine knowledge and the fulfillment of his or her purpose. This can be as simple as a quiet rest after victory, or as literal as entering heaven, or the afterlife, in peace.
In our own journey, our apotheosis is the full realization of an entirely new lifestyle, an entirely new personhood for ourselves. We’ve completed our long journey of lots of little steps, and learned entirely new things about ourselves. The old, unhealthy, self-destructive, and uneducated self is gone, and you are a new, more complete, and fulfilled person. I haven’t quite gotten here yet, myself, but I am working towards it like I never have before, and this blog is part of the fulfillment of that process, and my own “atonement with the father.”
The Ultimate Boon
The final goal, the holy grail, the fountain of eternal youth, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is what the hero sought out when they began their journey. All of the steps leading up to now have served to prepare the hero to receive this price, purifying, unifying, and testing him or her along the way.
Your ultimate boon, again, is personal, so it’s difficult to discuss in this manner. However, I’m willing to surmise that it isn’t just a physical change in your body, but more a realization of a new, more epic lifestyle. We play video games, in part, to live out certain fantasies we have in our own mind. By setting your feet on the path that you have traveled to get to this point, you probably wanted to bring those dreams a bit closer to reality. Perhaps your ultimate boon, then, is to make yourself into the bold, vibrant figures you see on your screen, and gain the power to make the world a bit more bold and vibrant in the process.
So that’s it for the hero’s journey, today. We will conclude on Monday, with “Return.” Keep an eye on the blog over the weekend, though. Sunday will feature the first weekly update from Jackie and myself, on our journeys begun in New Year’s Part 1(Dan) and New Year’s Part 2(Jackie). We also may yet get a bonus character post! Remember, make sure to follow me on Twitter, like the blog page on Facebook, hit up the Tumblr, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace