We’re all on a journey. Life is just made of such, no? About the time we think we’ve arrived somewhere, another path opens wide. Another goal to pursue. Another dream to follow. As T.S. Eliot said, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
Otherwise, we’re dead. At least metaphorically! Which then leads to the reality before we know it.
Often the beginning of a year starts us on such a venture. We focus on new goals, on where we want to be this time next annum. Whether it’s returning to school, studying something new, focusing on fitness, deciding to scale the nearest mountain or the tallest peak on this planet, finally tackling that book we’ve been promising to write—whatever the purpose—we’re finally ready to start.
And whether we’re shooting for Olympic gold or laying down an old unforgiving habit, each time we begin a new pursuit with a brass ring to grasp, we’ve just embarked on a hero’s quest. Because anything worth doing falls into that category. The ultimate goal: To achieve that thing that makes our lives better. And when we do that, we make the world better. What we teach ourselves (positively) enhances mankind.
Because as the psychologist Carl Jung said, while we may be the heroes of our own stories, at the same time we’re also the spear chuckers in someone else’s. We’re all one big part of an interweaving web.
And the funny thing is, once we commit to whatever that thing is, no matter how lofty or seemingly small the ambition, the journey takes us on a well-worn path. One that’s been trekked, psychologically speaking, by way-showers before us. It may seem as though no one has hiked this very trail (and by all rights, every track is different in that nobody’s walking shoes are quite the same, nor hit identical pebbles), the essence of our aspirations share common forks in the road.
That’s what makes the hero’s quest universal. Myths provide the framework for the stories of our lives. Their protagonists follow real steps—the ones that we all face, and someone encountered before us. Myths teach us how to live a human life, no matter which paths we take.
As Joseph Campbell said, “The adventure of the hero is ultimately the adventure of being alive.”
All stories have a beginning, middle, and end. But it’s in the details where life is lived, no? So let’s take a look at those details. Studying them, breaking them down, provides a wide-ranging map to guide us through the rough spots, prepare for what’s ahead, inspire us to continue when the slogging gets messy or tough. Heroes have gone before us. I’m all for learning from them!
And what better time than the new year to get on with it. What better time to embark! Whether your quest takes you a month or all year matters not. What matters now is to begin it.
So come along and let’s start our journey. Lace up those running shoes. Sharpen those pencils. We’ll see how others did it, day by day, over the next few weeks. And delve into our own stories, in a multi-part series.
As Goethe said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Come along and let’s take off!