Here is a Hero’s Journey of someone I know who really has had an impact on me… The Hero’s Journey is a classic narrative style that has the main character, the ordinary guy/gal, living what would be an otherwise ordinary life who is then abruptly catapulted into adventure. The classic situation is that it is more a Hero-Making journey, where the Hero gets to become, evolve into and exhibit the qualities of a hero, despite a strong resistance to the difficulty presented. Usually Heros are brave, resilient, teachable, and empowered by the struggle.
Characters we know and love, very well, follow this narrative. Buddha was a hero, Jesus was a hero — journeying, challenged, victor, great message, etc. Many figures we love, adore and emulate have the qualities of the hero. Heros always bring something to society that elevates our hope, faith and perserverence through difficulties.
The modern rendition of the hero is much less of interest to me but should be mentioned. The pop stars, actor extraordinaires and various musical vedettes to name a few. Somehow the Hero’s Journey does not quite cut it for me as a namesake, as stardom is a mainstream frenzy-like adulation that seldom meets the requirements of the Hero’s ordinary life — gone challenging, then back to life kind of feel to it. Jet setting, air-brushing and exorbitant incomes are not the message of the Hero.
What is absolutely kickass about the Hero’s Journey is that each and every one of us is on this heroic journey. We all have been challenged, moved out of ordinary life and have then, hopefully, returned with a message, a teaching, a transformation.
Fifteen or so years ago I met a guy named Will. He was interesting, his wife was kind. They were runners and were involved in the K-100 relay and so as a runner, we bumped paths. They were rather ‘normal’ at first glance. Marlene was a school teacher, Will was into all sorts of things and overall, average, ordinary. I have to admit, however, they were both unusually kind, or what I might have judged back then as ‘run of the mill Alberta family’.
The challenge arose in the form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. I was deeply saddened when Will and Marlene met us for lunch at The Blue Plate Diner for sweet potato fries and beers. Will said it loud and clear, “I am going to beat this.” I knew a little about the progression of the ailment and I thought, wtf?!
‘What the f$&k?’ because the disease is aggressive, progressive and it slowly limits and erases all motor co-ordination. The last time I visited Will and Marlene, he was still able to blink and communicate with his eyes but he had lost all ability to walk and move his limbs. I was personally really touched at how he and Marlene were positive, upbeat, funny… Will had always loved jokes, ribbing and he could be as crass as I could. His humor shone through.
His breathing was labored, and this is where I began to feel terrified and touched by his Hero’s Journey. This is what he has taught me.
Each breath is a gift. Each moment is a miracle. Love is greater than all things, always. The quality of your life is measured by the love you bring, the love you share, the love you teach. The hero does not whine, complain or lose faith. The hero is always the victor of his own life, not the victim of it.
How could he sit there, every breath a deep effort, and be a victor, a hero, an example? Crazy, hey? He did it. He is the penultimate hero and he has taught me more than any classical narrative ever could because he is an ordinary guy with an extraordinary heart.
This is dedicated to Will’s heroic journey. Thank you for your shining example.
Workshops to Note:
Of Poetry and Yoga April 21, 5-8pm, $60 +GST
Sexually Speaking Sunday May 5, 3:15-6:15, $65 +GST
Acro Intensive w/ Jill and Heidi Friday-Sunday May 24-26. Fri 7:30-9:30 (32 +GST), Saturday and Sunday 8-5:30 ($115 +GST per day). Lunch 11-12:30.
Tofino Surf and Yoga June 5-9. $419 +GST includes Eco Lodge shared accommodation and healthy fresh food. Register now!