In my English methods class today (the class in which I am learning how to teach English) my professor was going over different, recurring themes of stories that are tried and tested (and true) for engaging young people. One of the themes was ‘innocence and experience’ and the other was ‘a hero’s journey’.
There are Eight Stages of a Hero’s Journey:
1. Call –> some kind of thing that is a catalyst that begins the journey or the sense/need for change.
2. Separation –> the call demands a movement away from your previous life or existence and forces you over a threshold.
3. Challenges –> with a call and separation comes challenges and difficulties that all cumulate, pile up, and we struggle through them awkwardly.
4. Abyss –> the worst part, feels like doom (like a monster or a demon or a natural disaster or inner turmoil) that we have to face head on; what ever is in the abyss has to be met.
5. Transformed –> post abyss, you are transformed by the fact that you met a challenge that you never, ever thought you would meet. This results in your new self — arguably, results in you becoming who you actually are.
6. Revelation –> you finally begin to understand your world and your self as connect realities, especially since, in a sense, you’ve overcome the world.
7. Atonement –> a prayer and reconciliation with what you went through and reconciliation with yourself.
8. Return –> all true hero’s journeys end with a return to the beginning, in some way, with a gift. The idea behind this is that you can come full circle…returning to the world or your life in the past knowing what you’ve learned from your trip and your real sense of yourself.
(The very best illustration of the Hero’s Journey concept is Lord of the Rings. Think about it)
Anyways, this lesson moved me to tears. I never cry, but I found myself (literally) blubbering like an idiot in the bathroom stall post-class. Why? I am stuck in my own, personal abyss and I can’t seem to move forward and be transformed. We’ve been talking a lot both in some of my classes and some of my relationships about how life, as a student, seems forever on hold. I find myself making excuses or justifying certain things or being lazy about my dreams simply on the grounds that I am a student and everything else will come later. I will be better, later. I will volunteer, later. I will be the victor in my journey, later. Self improvement, changes, confidence, bravery…later. It has to come later.
What on earth am I waiting for? As I study the cyclical understanding of knowledge, I came across something pretty cool:
Jewish thought teaches that humans learn through Question and Answer. Did you know that the word “question” in Hebrew is the same Hebrew word used for “borrow”? Similarly, “answer” shares the same Hebrew term used or “return”. Unless we’re at a highly, deeply transcendent place, all of our knowledge is given and received, borrowed with the expectation of return one day. What we do with what we learn while we have it, while we’re borrowing it, is up to us. That’s pretty neat. It’s also pretty convicting.
I have been struggling for three days over something and while I try and study for my one and only test, this struggle is robbing me of any ability to concentrate or focus on what I need to do. It’s like a dragon I need to fight out of my little abyss (don’t you love that word?) before I can move on.
I think that a hero’s journey is forever changing and forever happening, with connected mini-journeys along the way. Right now I feel like as I keep putting certain things off for later, I am slowly stepping backwards instead of forwards, moving at a pace I never thought I would. There are so many things sitting at my fingertips that I’ve let become routine or ordinary or a part of the world of myself that I never thought I would allow.
It is a battle and on days like today, the fight seems to be burned out and I am confused on how to be the hero in my story when I barely know which way to take my next step as I am unraveling at seams that have been stitched ever so tight.
Maybe it’s about time to quit putting it off, all of it off, no?