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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?


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