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Getting My Ducks In A Row

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Over the next few days I'll be finishing up our last project and getting my ducks in a row for the next one. I'm still collecting feedback, so if there's anything you'd like to say about the project on "Living a Larger Life" or "A Hero's Journey", I'd love to see it. A big thank you to those who have already put their two cents in.

Our next project will be about making commitments. I'm trying to work up to a 30 day project on goal setting, and it seems appropriate to me that we spend some time working on making and keeping our commitments. Especially the ones we make to ourselves. So, be thinking about what kind of a small commitment you might want to work on during a 30 day project.

I'm also working on a new look for the project, and hoping to have that complete sometime soon. Hoping to have this all up and ready to go in the next week or so.

Wrapping Things Up

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Well, it looks like we've come to the close of the project on exploring how to live a larger life through movies and books. I'm really curious to hear feedback on this one because of all the projects I've posted over the years, this one triggered the biggest changes for me.

So, how did it work for you? Did you find anything interesting? useful? Was your life enlarged in any way? How did the project meet your expectations? How did it fall short? Would you recommend books and movies as a way to live larger? If so, are there any particular ones you might mention? If not, why not?

We also did a small bit about The Hero's Journey. It was interesting to me, and gave me a new perspective on the flow of life and how it's the same as and different than a hero's journey in the movies. Any comments about that one?

Your feedback is important and appreciated.

Cosmic Motion Picture of Life

Friday, February 19, 2010

I happened on to this article, and it seems like the perfect ending to our project on Living a Larger Life and the mini-project, The Hero's Journey. It's kind of long, and my original thought was to edit it, but it's really really late, and I couldn't wrap my brain around it, so here it is, in it's entirety!

Watching the Cosmic Motion Picture of Life

by Paramahansa Yogananda

In this hall of life, we are all motion picture actors as well as movie fans. We entertain, inspire and instruct others with the show of our experiences; and we ourselves watch the ever-changing, interesting pictures of other lives.

The pictures of current events are filmed in the east, west, north and south. The various nations with their strange and colorful actings of diverse customs, traditions and occupations amid varying scenic and climatic environments, offer infinitely rich and inexhaustible material for producing life-films of ever-new interest.

Educational, sensational, comical, saddening and inspiring pictures are taken by the mind-camera of the average man, every day, any time, anywhere. There are many comic films in life. Inspiring scenes help us when we behold the unrolled film of the lives of great men and great adventurers such as Lincoln, Gandhi, Mme. Curie, Byrd, Emerson and thousands of other unique personalities, as well as the heroic world figures of religious teachers, such as Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Mohammed, Krishna and others.

We watch, moved and entertained, the mental motion pictures as filmed in Shakespearean tragedies and other great dramatic writings, in the house of our imagination. The pictures of world events, daily facts, evoked by our newspapers, hold our passing interest. The pictures of the sufferings of others bring a tear, a determination to help them. Through their sorrow, we find our own joy in helping them.

Sympathetic higher beings entertain themselves with the joy of helping mortals. If they cried, and became identified with the tears of others, they could not render help. For sorrow increases sorrow, which can only be diminished and healed through contact with the potent salve of unshakably happy minds. Hence, in watching the tragic mistakes or misfortunes of other lives, or of our own, we should feel only tears of joy because of our ability and absolute power to help. There cannot be room for the dark disturbing emotion of grief in children made in the likeness of God.

Individuals who are highly nervous, or who are suffering with the malady of melancholia, or anaemic pessimism, or who are stricken with spells of despair at the approach of the least difficulties of life — these do not profit by watching the pictures of tragedy in other lives. They will have fainting spells; they cannot thus learn the lesson of the result of wrong behavior and thus desist from error, nor can they render help to those who are suffering, since they themselves are not free from pain.

Thus, one must be thoroughly prepared mentally to watch profitably the motion picture of the tragedy of trying experiences in the lives of others, in order to be able to render help in making others look upon life as only a picture for their entertainment and instruction.

The great wars of Europe and Asia, the natural cataclysms of earthquakes and floods, the famines, prosperous eras, influence of world-saints, statesmen, and villains, the work of the colossal geniuses of the ages — the poets, business men, writers, courageous reformers, great lovers, and heroes — these events and these natures have all played their parts in the studio of the centuries.

Everything took time; to the consciousness of man everything seemed to last long. Each life seemed almost unending, each great event was all-absorbing, but when the Director of Life called “Cut!” the film was finished. The greatest lives, the complex knotted existences, the whole history of nations, your life and mine, past, present, and future (if we could but see), which seem to drag on minutely, could nevertheless be filmed and each life shown in a couple of hours. One’s life, lived through a hundred years, seems so long-drawn-out when taken through the slow mental camera, but with the telescopic lens of retrospection, one sees the whole panorama at a glance.

Is this life a movie show? The millions of geologic years, the constellations of heaven, the floating vapors, atomic combinations, earth materials, oceans, continents, nations and their histories, millions of births and the almost complete change by death every hundred years of all the earth’s inhabitants, the various great intellectual, spiritual, and material civilizations, their rise and fall — with this background, we can see all life as a vast, ever-changing, ever-new, ever-entertaining mighty film in the hall of introspection. This life is a picture shown in serials and by installments, infinitely interesting, ever-fresh, ever-stirring, ever-complex. The master minds and world-changing men such as Jesus, Buddha, Socrates, Asoka, Mohammed, Caesar, William the Conqueror, Darwin, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and other outstanding pioneers and leaders are the great stars of the motion picture productions, who command universal attention from their audiences.

The pictures of life must always be different to be interesting. One does not want to see, again and again, the same comedies of lives or the same news of prosaic facts, or the same tragedies of harrowing or gruesome experiences. One wants variety, and can hardly bear to see the same picture twice. That is why the Great Director of the motion picture of life keeps everything changing. You can not drink twice from the same running water; you can not watch the same event twice. The water passes by; the events change; you are not now the same man that you were a second ago — your thoughts have changed, your sum total is in a different proportion.

Why not then take life simply as a motion picture? To do that, you must steel your mind against sorrow. You must be prepared for variety. You must be a motion picture player, an entertainer, as well as one of the audience, in watching your own pictures and the pictures of others. While playing the part of combating disease, or fighting failures, or undergoing accidents, or enduring the trials of life, you must know that you are just playing a part.

Just as an actor in the moving pictures is untouched by the sorrow he has to depict in his characters, so must you remain untouched by the changing pictures of inevitable misfortune, sickness, sudden failure and unforeseen obstacles in life. Sickness, failure and grief are so, simply by the relative standards of human consciousness. A disciplined consciousness, united to cosmic consciousness, never inwardly experiences sickness, or suffering, or failure. As God’s children, we are always perfect, and we must recover that consciousness by wisdom and true understanding of the meaning of life and its problems.

Care not if you are not the principal player in the movies of life. No motion picture is made up of only one player, or one event. Your part in playing, if short or obscure, is yet very important, for without you the “plot” of life is incomplete. In the Universal Director’s eyes, he who plays his life’s part well, whatever that may be, is made a star to shine in His immortal galaxy.

Most of our troubles spring from not knowing what our parts are. This results from not developing our innate intuitive soul faculties. Rouse the all-feeling, all-seeing wisdom by regular meditation, and find your part. Then you must play and watch your own playing, or the playing of others — be it the news of plain facts, or a comedy of errors, or the tragedy of trying experiences — with an inwardly entertained mind. There is no room for pain, grievance, or boredom in watching the movies of our own lives. The retrospective consciousness of man can play all the noble parts of life joyously, untouched by suffering. These cosmic movies are all for our entertainment.

The Great Director of the Motion Picture Company of Life is made of joy. We, as His children, are made in His image of joy. From joy we came, in joy we live, in joy we melt. He brought out this cosmic motion picture to keep Himself entertained. Having come out of His being, we are endowed with the same quality of super-consciousness, by which we can watch the pictures of life, of birth, death and world events with the same divinely enjoying spirit.

You watch a tragedy in a motion picture house, and when it is over, you say: “O, it was a fine picture!” So must you be able to look upon the pictures of trials of your own life and say: “O, my life is interesting, with troubles and difficulties to be overcome. These are all my stimulants to show me my errors, and help me assume the right mental attitude by which I can watch with joy the fascinating spectacle of life.”

The consciousness of man is made of God and is pain-proof. All physical and mental sufferings come by identification, imagination, and wrong human habits of thinking. We have to travel along the labyrinthine path of life, visiting many motion picture houses of varied experiences, entering them with the consciousness of being entertained and instructed.

Then life and death will be watched with an unchangeable, joyous consciousness. We will find our consciousness to be one with cosmic consciousness, unchanged by the human waking of birth or the sleep of death. Thus we will watch the cosmic motion picture with perennial, ever-new joy.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Return With The Elixir

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today we're exploring the twelfth and final stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

12: Return With The Elixir

The hero comes back to his ordinary world, but his adventure would be meaningless unless he brought back the elixir, treasure, or some lesson from the special world. Sometimes it's just knowledge or experience, but unless he comes back with the elixir or some boon to mankind, he's doomed to repeat the adventure until he does. Many comedies use this ending, as a foolish character refuses to learn his lesson and embarks on the same folly that got him in trouble in the first place.

Sometimes the boon is treasure won on the quest, or love, or just the knowledge that the special world exists and can be survived. Sometimes it's just coming home with a good story to tell.

Here's what I want to know:

What is the special treasure, elixir, lesson or story you have to share? Are you sharing it? If so, how? If not, why not?


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today we're exploring the eleventh stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

11: Resurrection

The hero emerges from the special world, transformed by his experience. There is often a replay here of the mock death-and-rebirth of stage 8, as the hero once again faces death and survives. Each ordeal wins Luke Skywalker new command over the Force. He is transformed into a new being by his experience. The great eagles carry Frodo and Sam to safety.

Here's what I think:

This brings to mind the initiation rituals of primitive cultures, something we tend to ignore for the most part in middle income America. Gangs definitely have this one covered, as do countries like Israel where it's mandatory to serve in the military. Boot camps for teenagers gone bad might also qualify as a transformational experience.

Certainly, there are life experiences in which we might face death and survive. Whether or not this is an integral part of a larger life, I don't know. I do think that when it comes right down to it, life and death struggles put everything into perspective, what's important becomes agonizingly clear, the insignificant petty details that we used to obsess over fade into nothingness, and we are undeniably changed.

I'm also thinking that this is what I always want - to be reborn, to be resurrected, to be transformed into a whole new being - but I want it to happen without any pain and suffering, without loss or grief or any discomfort whatsoever. Is it possible, do you think? Can a life be transformed, can a person be reborn in a pleasant happy kind of wonderful way? Or are deep transformational experiences always accompanied by upheaval and chaos and loss?

The Road Back

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today we're exploring the tenth stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

10: The Road Back

The hero's not out of the woods yet. Some of the best chase scenes come at this point, as the hero is pursued by the vengeful forces from whom he has stolen the elixir or the treasure. This is the chase as Luke and friends escape from the Death Star, with Princess Leia and the plans that will bring down Darth Vader.

If the hero has not yet managed to reconcile with his father or the gods, they may come raging after him at this point. This is the moonlight bicycle flight of Elliott and E.T. as they escape from "Keys" (Peter Coyote), a force representing governmental authority.

Here's something to think about:

This was a totally new thought for me. Up until now, I've had this idea in my head that once the sword was seized, once the grail had been found, it was all gravy, the story was over, and happily ever after would now commence. Clearly, I haven't been paying much attention to the plot when I watch an action adventure movie.

In my "real life" I've had this same expectation: once I "get" this, or "achieve" that, everything will be easy. And when it isn't easy, when suddenly the shit hits the fan, and I'm in the midst of trauma drama; I tend to get really depressed and disillusioned, unhappy with myself, thinking that I somehow must have missed the mark, retrieved the wrong sword, or lost the grail...

Now that I know that this is the way the "story" is supposed to go, I'll be better prepared. And what about you? Have you had the experience of achieving what you felt was success, only to find yourself suddenly in the midst of chaos and trouble? Does your "real life" follow this same formula? Have you noticed that peaks are followed by valleys, and that some things are not only hard to "get" they are equally hard to "keep?" Is it possible to be prepared for the downward spiral that follows a hard earned high? Do you think it would be useful? And what would you do in terms of preparation?

Seizing the Sword

Monday, February 15, 2010

Today we're exploring the ninth stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

9: The Hero Seizes the Sword

Having survived death, beaten the dragon, slain the Minotaur, the hero now takes possession of the treasure he's come seeking. Sometimes it's a special weapon like a magic sword, or it may be a token like the Grail or some elixer which can heal the wounded land.

Sometimes the "sword" is knowledge and experience that leads to greater understanding and a reconciliation with hostile forces.

The hero may settle a conflict with his father or with his shadowy nemesis. In RETURN OF THE JEDI, Luke is reconciled with both, as he discovers that the dying Darth Vader is his father, and not such a bad guy after all.

The hero may also be reconciled with a woman. Often she is the treasure he's come to win or rescue, and there is often a love scene or sacred marriage at this point. Women in these stories (or men if the hero is female) tend to be shape-shifters. They appear to change in form or age, reflecting the confusing and constantly changing aspects of the opposite sex as seen from the hero's point of view. The hero's supreme ordeal may grant him a better understanding of women, leading to a reconciliation with the opposite sex.

Food for Thought:

I've recently been playing those ridiculous facebook games. On most of them, there are trophies and rewards that get collected as a result of completing certain tasks. My vampire wars trophies look pretty impressive, to me anyway, and when I was transcribing this post, it occured to me that maybe it would be helpful to make a sort of "trophy case" for our real lives.

What if we sat down and thought about all the things we've gained from our "supreme ordeals" and life lessons, and made a scrapbook of sorts. We could have a place to showcase our talents and skills, and abilites acquired through experience. It might also be helpful to keep track also of our tools and stuff, and have a place for certificates and diplomas.

What do you think? Is it possible that something valuable could be gained from keeping track of our progress through this journey called life on earth?

The Supreme Ordeal

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Today we're exploring the eighth stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

8: The Hero Endures The Supreme Ordeal

This is the moment at which the hero touches bottom. He faces the possibility of death, brought to the brink in a fight with a mythical beast. For us, the audience standing outside the cave waiting for the victor to emerge, it's a black moment. In STAR WARS, it's the harrowing moment in the bowels of the Death Star, where Luke, Leia and company are trapped in the giant trash-masher. Luke is pulled under by the tentacled monster that lives in the sewage, and is held down so long the audience begins to wonder if he's dead. E.T. momentarily appears to die on the operating table. Gandalf falls with the Balrog.

This is a critical moment in any story, an ordeal in which the hero appears to die and is born again. It's a major source of the magic of the hero myth. What happens is that the audience has been led to identify with the hero. We are encouraged to experience the brink-of-death feeling with the hero. We are temporarily depressed, and then we are revived by the hero's return from death.

This is the magic of any well-designed amusement park thrill ride. Space Mountain or The Great White Knuckler make the passengers feel like they're going to die, and there's a great thrill that comes from surviving a moment like that. This is also the trick of rites of passage and rites of initiation into fraternities and secret
societies. The initiate is forced to taste death and experience resurrection. You're never more alive than when you think you're going to die.

So that's how it is in books and movies, but what about real life?

I'm pretty sure that in real life, when you're in the midst of a "supreme ordeal," the last thing on your mind is a "hero's journey" or "living large," or anything more than just simple survival and undeniable pain and suffering. It's fun to get that vicarious thrill when you're sitting in a movie theater because it isn't really happening to you, nor is it happening in real life to someone you love.

In real life, there's no guarantees that you'll come out on the other side alive and well. Some of us do, and some of us don't. Let's face it, life on earth isn't really life in the movies. With a stroke of a pen, or a few lines on a script, we can't necessarily make it all right in the end. So, how does this fit into our project of living our lives in a larger way? And do we really want to embark on heroic journeys if this is part and parcel of that dangerous trip across the threshold and into a larger more interesting future?

I say yes! Absolutely! Because I don't think that taking a leap of faith means a supreme ordeal is inevitable. What I do think, is that the experience of the supreme ordeal is an integral part of life on earth, I don't think we can get out of it. Even if we hide in our homes and follow the rules and are very very careful never to stick our necks out, that ordeal, that trial by fire is looming on the horizon. Be it the death of a loved one, or an interminable illness. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes, war, terrible accidents, and devastating loses can and do occur regularly.

So, I say, let's embrace life. Get out there and take some chances, break a few rules, stick our necks out all they way. What do you say? Any thoughts? Ideas? Insights? Do you agree? Disagree?

The Innermost Cave

Today we're exploring the seventh stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

7: The Hero Reaches The Innermost Cave

The hero comes at last to a dangerous place, often deep underground, where the object of his quest is hidden. In the Arthurian stories the Chapel Perilous is the dangerous chamber where the seeker finds the Grail. In many myths the hero has to descend into hell to retrieve a loved one, or into a cave to fight a dragon and gain a treasure. It's Theseus going into the Labyrinth to face the Minotaur. In STAR WARS it's Luke and company being sucked into the Death Star where they will rescue Princess Leia. Sometimes it's the hero entering the headquarters of his nemesis; and sometimes it's just the hero going into his or her own dream world to confront his or hers worst fears... and overcome them.

My thoughts on the subject:

It seems to me that once I'm this deeply emmeshed in "the journey", that all thoughts of "living large" or "being heroic" or "having a better life" are at this point completely dominated by the absolute necessity to get whatever it is that needs to be gotten, go where ever I need to go, and do what ever needs to be done so that I can come through this thing alive. Once I've come this far, the second guessing is over, the hesitations vanish, and I find that I actually do have courage, and wisdom, grit and determination.

What about you? I'm sure we've all been there more than once. It may not have been as interesting or aweinspiring as Chapel Perilous, the Death Star, or Mount Doom, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous, or important. I remember when I went into labor for the first time, There I was on the threshold thinking... what the heck have I done? children? I don't want children! I just want puppies! Then suddenly there was a midwife, and hot compresses, all thought left me... and I just wanted to get it done and over with.

So, if you're hesitating on the threshold of a new journey, or if you're unsure about entering that innermost cave, I'm thinking that it might be really helpful to make a list of your previous "Cave" experiences. You just might find more confidence in your inner resources, and valuable insights into your own unique strengths and abilities.

Tests and Helpers

Friday, February 12, 2010

Today we're exploring the sixth stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

6: The hero encounters tests and helpers.

The hero is forced to make allies and enemies in the special world, and to pass certain tests and challenges that are part of his training. In STAR WARS, the cantina is the setting for the forging of an important alliance with Han Solo, and the start of an important enmity with Jabba The Hut. Frodo and Sam faced their first test and found some good allies when they met up with Merry and Pippen and then were almost found by the Black Riders. In CASABLANCA, Rick's Cafe is the setting for the "alliances and enmities" phase, and in many westerns it's the saloon where these relationships are established.

So, what do you think?

When it comes to tests and helpers, how do you normally respond? Do you allow other people to help? Do you ask for help? Do you second guess yourself at the first roadblock? When things begin to get difficult do you take that as a "sign" that it "wasn't meant to be"? Or do you see it as a challange to be faced and overcome? Do you find it easy to take "no" for an answer?

Everyday Heroism

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I was talking about our current project with a friend of mine, and she made the comment that the idea of a "Hero's Journey" didn't really resonate with her because she didn't feel like a hero, and was way too busy just trying to survive being a single mother with four children, no money, and health issues.

And it occurred to me that it's pretty damn heroic to even consider keeping the house clean when you have that many kids, no help, no husband, no money, and you don't feel good, all your joints ache, and if you pick up something heavy, or turn your body too fast it falls apart...

I've been reading a really good book called The Road, about a boy and his father walking across post-apocalyptic America, starving and sick. There's a small conversation in it that really stuck with me today. The boy asks his father, "Are you real brave?" The father replies, "Just medium." "What's the bravest thing you ever did?" "Getting up this morning."

Life can be so relentless and hard, circumstances and situations can feel so bitter, or so sad, the path ahead can look so bleak that the simple act of getting up in the morning can very easily be an epic act of bravery - very bit as heroic as anything Aragorn or Frodo ever did.

And I have this idea that maybe every human person is an actual hero, that it takes an incredible amount of courage to take on this amazing often excruciating thing called life on earth. When I think of each person I know, and look for their heroic aspects, I can clearly see them. I can't see my own, but I can see theirs. Which reminds me of this quote:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Just because you're not out there jousting with windmills, or engaging in dramatic acts of heroism, beheading orcs, or slaying vampires, doesn't mean that you aren't fully engaged in your own hero's journey. Just because you don't have dreams of grandeur, doesn't mean that your life is unimportant or lacks meaning. I love the idea of mapping my life as if it is a hero's journey because it helps me with the daily drudgery that too often shows up, and because it gives me the courage to get out of bed in the morning.

What about you? What do you think? Do you have any thoughts and ideas about this? Who are the heroes in your life? When was the last time you told them so?

I found the following while looking for images for this post, it couldn't be more appropriate. The students from Indian River Elementary were inspired to write about heroes. Here are my favorites:

Well, my hero isn´t one person, it´s two people, because my mom and my dad are my most favorite people on this earth, six years ago, my mom went to nursing school and last year she gratuated, she would study, do laundry, have to deal with me and my brother (I admit sometimes we were loud.) And my dad would help me with my homework, make supper, feed me in the morning and wake me up too. Plus, my mom was working a second job with all that school work, laundry, and me, my brother, and my dad did bug her sometimes, so she is a super hero! And my dad made a good dinner for me and my seventeen-year old brother. My dad also would wake me up in the morning. My dad would also be known as a super hero to me too! My mom is know a RN and my dad is a horseshoer and I couldn´t be prouder of both of them! – S.

My hero is my wonderful, loving, outgoing, brother, Barry! He´s my hero because he´s loving, he does sports (and he´s great at them), and he is just an awsome guy! My brother, Barry but I call him Bubba, so Bubba is also my romodle because he does track, shockput and discus. I want to do shock-put. He even is helping me throw it already. I´m kinda good. He also does weightlifting. I want to do that. and he is helping to train a wrestler at N.S.B.H.S. his high school. My brother is also an A + B honorol student. He´s a senious at New Smyrna Beach, well ya know that High School of his. LOL He is in medical acadamy also. He has a strong stomic because he can look at blood and guts and nastey stuff (Yuck) I can´t! Well, you get it now right? He´s just an awsome guy and I love him. He´s my hero. — B.B.

Passing the Threshold

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today we're exploring the fifth stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

5: The hero passes the first threshold.

He fully enters the special world of his story for the first time. This is the moment at which the story takes off and the adventure gets going. The balloon goes up, the romance begins, the plane or spaceship blasts off, the wagon train gets rolling. Dorothy sets out on the Yellow Brick Road. Bilbo heads out his front door with the dwarves; Frodo and Sam leave the shire. Buffy kills her first vampire. The hero is now committed to his journey... and there's no turning back.

Something to think about:

This is where I always seem to get stuck. It takes a mighty kick to send me over that threshold. What about you? Can you think of your last "point of no return"? Are you looking at it right now? Does it tend to sneak up on you and suddenly you realize that you're committed? Or is it usually something you consciously decide? Is this the scariest part? or is that yet to come?

And sometimes I wonder if every action, every decision, every new day, is a threshold of some kind. And if that's true, does that mean we can change our story at any time? Can you change your story right now by doing or deciding something different? By getting up on a different side of the bed? Or does the drama have to play out first....

Your Allies On Life’s Journey

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I found this article at The Daily Om. Joseph Campbell doesn't mention finding your tribe, but I do think it's something important to consider. Here's the article:

Finding Your Tribe

Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution.

Part of being human is the search for an individual identity. Bound to this strong need to establish a unique persona, however, is an equally intense desire for acceptance. It is when we find our individual tribes that both are satisfied. Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support. We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development.

The individuals who eventually become members of your unique tribe are out there in the wide world waiting for you. You are destined to find them, one by one, as you move through life. Sometimes your own efforts will put you in contact with your future tribe members. At other times, circumstances beyond your control will play a role in helping you connect with your tribe. If you look about you and discover that you are already allied with a wonderful and supportive tribe, remember that there are likely many members of your tribe you have not yet met. On the other hand, if you feel you are still living outside of your tribe, broadening your horizons can help you find your tribe members.

However your life develops after you come together with your tribe, you can be assured that its members will stand at your side. On the surface, your tribe may seem to be nothing more than a loose-knit group of friends and acquaintances to whom you ally yourself. Yet when you look deeper, you will discover that your tribe grounds you and provides you with a sense of community that ultimately fulfills many of your most basic human needs.

And so now I have questions:

I'm wondering if you often lose your tribe when you head off in a new direction... when you leave the comfort of the Shire you also leave behind people and a shared experience. And haven't we all had those experiences of going away maybe to college, or a new city, maybe a different job, or lifestyle, and then finding out that your friends and family no longer know who you are, a change has occured within, your horizons are broader, maybe you grew up - yet they still see you as you were before. Little Johnny went away to college, came home a doctor, but to his family and friends, he's still little Johnnie, not Dr. John.

And isn't it a requirement of the Hero's Journey that he leave the tribe? I know that the article says that our tribe gladly follows us on our journies and our evolution, and yet, I'm not sure that's always the case. Some tribes endeavor to keep us centered, balanced, and always in the same place. When we take off on a search for the grail, it upsets the status quo and we may find ourselves out in the cold.

So, can you really take your tribe with you? And if you can't does that mean you need a new one? And how many people constitute a tribe anyway? Is 2 enough? Shouldn't there be 8 or 12 at the very least?

Finding A Mentor

Monday, February 08, 2010

Today we're exploring the fourth stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

4: The hero is encouraged by the wise old man or woman.

By this time many stories will have introduced a Merlin-like character who is the hero's mentor. In JAWS it's the crusty Robert Shaw character who knows all about sharks; in the mythology of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, it's Lou Grant. The mentor gives advice and sometimes magical weapons. This is Obi Wan Kenobi giving Luke Skywalker his father's light sabre. Buffy has Giles, and access to his resources and weapons.

The mentor can only go so far with the hero. Eventually the hero must face the unknown by himself. Sometimes the wise old man is required to give the hero a swift kick in the pants to get the adventure going.

What about you?

Do you have a mentor? Is there some wise person you can go to for advice, resources, or moral support? If not, how could you go about finding such a person? Or is it up to that person to find you? Is it true that "when the student is ready, the teacher appears" ? Or is it the other way around? Have you had a mentor in the past? Do you mentor others? Thoughts, ideas, observations?

The Reluctant Hero

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Today we're exploring the third stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

3: The hero is reluctant at first.

Often at this point, the hero balks at the threshold of adventure. After all, he or she is facing the greatest of all fears -- fear of the unknown. At this point Luke refuses Obi Wan's call to adventure, and returns to his aunt and uncle's farmhouse, only to find they have been barbecued by the Emperor's stormtroopers. Suddenly Luke is no longer reluctant, and is eager to undertake the adventure. He is motivated.

Captain Jack Sparrow is ever the reluctant hero, constantly trying to take the cowards way out, do the dastardly thing. He becomes a hero despite himself. Even Sam hesitates at the beginning of the journey, stopping at the outer limits of the Shire, having second thoughts about leaving. Buffy didn't want to be the slayer, she just wanted to be prom queen. I'm noticing that in each of these instances there is some deep motivation. And it's not something light - like tea and cookies - it's desperate situarions, life and death, losing everything, friends in danger, that sort of thing.

Something to consider:

I'm sure we've all been here... hesitating on the threshold of a new experience, something life changing about to occur. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Because it seems to me that what we have here is the "tricky" part. How do know the difference between taking the leap of faith that will put you on the path to fulfilling your destiny, and stupidly jumping into a pool of sharks where you will be eaten alive? Is there a difference? What would have happened to Sam if he had stayed in the Shire? What if Aragorn had chosen not to go with Frodo? Is it possible to say "no" to something like this? Would another hero step in? Or would circumstances have simply forced Sam, Aragorn, Buffy, and Luke Skywalker onto their respective paths anyway?

Your Call To Adventure

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Today we're exploring the second stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

2: The Call to Adventure:

The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure. Maybe the land is dying, as in the Arthur stories about the search for the Holy Grail. In STAR WARS again, it's Princess Leia's holographic message to Obi Wan Kenobi, who asks Luke to join in the quest. In detective stories, it's the hero accepting a new case. In romantic comedies it could be the first sight of that special -- but annoying someone the hero or heroine will be pursuing/sparring with the remainder of the story.

Something to think about:

So, what's your call to adventure? Are you in this present moment presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure? Have you already embarked on a journey of sorts? If not, can you remember a moment in time when opportunity came knocking? What did you do? How did you respond?

Your Ordinary World

Friday, February 05, 2010

Today we're exploring the first stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

1: The hero is introduced in his ordinary world.

Most stories take place in a special world, a world that is new and alien to its hero. If you're going to tell a story about a fish out of his customary element, you first have to create a contrast by showing him in his mundane, ordinary world. In WITNESS you see both the Amish boy and the policeman in their ordinary worlds before they are thrust into alien worlds -- the farmboy into the city, and the city cop into the unfamiliar countryside. In STAR WARS you see Luke Skywalker bored to death as a farmboy before he takes on the universe.

Something to think about:
If you haven't yet done so, it might be good to look at yesterday's post and determine where you are in your hero's journey. If it's already started, think back to where you were, who you were, and what you were doing in that time before your hero's journey started. The progress you've made might surprise you. If you are thinking of, or planning a quest, journey, or something similar, now's the time to look around and make a record of how things stand in this now moment.

A Practical Guide to Being A Hero

Thursday, February 04, 2010

From Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, we have this nifty little break down of the 12 stages of being a hero. We will be exploring each one separately, and as we do, I'll link each one to the individual posts:

  1. The hero is introduced in his ordinary world.
  2. Call to adventure.
  3. The hero is reluctant at first.
  4. The hero is encouraged by the wise old man or woman.
  5. Passing the first threshold.
  6. Tests and helpers.
  7. The innermost cave.
  8. The hero endures the supreme ordeal.
  9. Seizing the sword.
  10. The road back.
  11. Resurrection.
  12. Return with the elixir.
In the mean time, here's something to think about:

If you were making a hero's journey, what stage would you place yourself in right now? Can you think of other journeys you've made in your life? If so, is it possible that they break down into similar components? Is there a "hero's journey" you'd like to take? If so, what would that look like?

Becoming A Hero

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Believe it or not, I put these words, "how to become a hero" into my google search bar and came up with a website dedicated to just that! Here's an exerpt from one of the articles by C.J. Hayden:

"In the current issue of Inquiring Mind, I ran across this powerful statement in an article by Susan Burggraf, titled "Ordinary Buddhas: That Means You, Babe." Writing about finding one's path, Susan says, "Here's the big trick: don't work with what you don't have, don't develop new skills. There are so many doors and so many openings, so there's one that's sized right for who you are right now."

This is one of the keys to setting out on a heroic path. True heroes take action; that's how they become heroes. They don't just think and talk about what needs to be done some day; they start doing something about it now. Instead of taking one more class, reading one more book, earning one more degree, or working one more year at the job that eats away at their soul, they find a place to begin today.

Bilbo Baggins left home without even his handkerchief. Why do you think you need to learn more, grow more, or acquire more before starting out on the path you were meant for? You will never be completely ready. Start from wherever you are. "

The Hero's Journey

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

All of a sudden, at pretty much the end of our project, I'm finding all kinds of good information that might be helpful. In order to fit it all in, I've decided to extend our project just a little bit, and give this section an additional name: The Hero's Journey. I don't know how many days it will add to our original Living A Larger Life project, but I thought we might follow it to a satisfactory conclusion. For starters, we have this:

From Hero's Journey, I found this little tidbit:

The Hero's Journey is an archetypal path of individual transformation. It is a map that shows the stages of our personal process of evolution. These stages are revealed time and again in myths and legends in all cultures throughout the history of humanity. While the structure of these stages is universal, the expression is completely unique for each individual.

At different times in our lives we are aware of a calling; a push or pull forward. This starts us on a path of learning and growth. Along this path we meet inevitable challenges. Confronting these challenges forces us to evolve in new ways and directions and brings us to a journey of self-discovery. This journey involves crossing a threshold into a new territory outside of our comfort zones, finding the proper guardians (resources), and facing and transforming inner “demons” or “shadows.”

In order to effectively complete such a journey, we need maps, tools and resources.

If that's true, I think it might be helpful to make a list, or write some notes about the following:

  • What is your calling?
  • Where do you feel yourself pushed? or is it pulled?
  • What about your comfort zone? What does it look like?
  • Where does your discomfort zone begin? What might that look like?
  • What resources would be helpful?
  • Where might you look for guardians or helpers?
  • Do you already have helpers and guardians you could call on?
  • Who are those inner demons?
  • What do they look like?
  • What are their names?
  • Do you have a map?
  • Do you even know where you're going?
  • Or why?
  • What tools would be helpful?
  • Are their tools and talents that you already have?
  • If you were going to assist someone else as they prepared for a similar journey, what would you tell them? What would your advice be?

Which one are you?

Monday, February 01, 2010

There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.

-By Douglas Everett


The purpose of this project was to catapult us into the third choice - I'm wondering how well we did. How about you? Which one are you? Which one would you like to be?

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