Sep 19

Turmoil and Chaos – The Revolutionary–Walking with Heroes Part 11

hero-revolutionary-campbell

Here we are again, firmly committed to this voyage of discovery, this exploration of the archetypes and patterns that we can uncover in our lives. Each one of these patterns is the path of a true hero – it’s up to you to find what resonates and then decide what to do about it. Because here’s the one thing I know – there is a hero inside each one of us. A hero who, if allowed to, will stamp his or her mark on the world in a way that no-one else can. By now you’ll be getting the idea that a hero isn’t always some gun ho type swinging in to danger like James Bond. The hero can be the quiet one, creating in peace and silence.

Last time we started The Journey with the world of the Seeker – driving us forward into change in search of something bigger, something better – and something that matters.

This week, we’ll look at the place of the Revolutionary… also known as the Destroyer. It’s the Revolutionary who turns things upside down, who creates a world of turmoil and change. It’s the Revolutionary who disturbs the status quo, who rips down established ways of doing things to create something new – something better.

The stage of the journey

Archetypally, the Revolutionary appears in two places in our life. Sometimes the time about our 20s become times of revolution, where we kick out against the established standards of our parents and decide to do something different. We go against the family tradition, refuse to step into the family business or become a doctor/lawyer/farmer (or whatever) as our forefathers were. We decide to make our own way in the world, unfettered by what’s gone before.

And of course, we often revisit this in our 40s or 50s where we suddenly decide to change course, rip up everything that we’ve carefully created, and embark on something new. Sometimes that all ends up in destructive behaviour rather than revolutionary change. Marriages break down, we go in search of our youth – when actually what has happened is that we’ve entered a revolutionary cycle – and then we can choose the changes we create.

At some point, the high philosophy of the Seeker, the Explorer, has to turn into something else. It comes up against a barrier and a decision has to be made – a decision from which there is no turning back. While Seeking for truth and wisdom can be theoretical, it’s the Revolutionary that turns this into action.

Again, we don’t always choose the Revolutionary. Sometimes the destruction and chaos is thrust upon us. But always, somewhere in the past, we have said something like ‘I hate this job’ or ‘this relationship is stifling me’ and eventually the Universe moves to help make that come true.

The nature of the Revolutionary

It isn’t enough for us to become static, to reach a level of comfort. As we found out a couple of episodes ago, there is the need in the human soul to grow and change, to become more than we currently are. And sometimes, destruction is the only way. In the same way that sometimes political approaches fail and revolution is the only answer, so sometimes we have to tear down what has been created in order to become something more.

A caterpillar is a pretty amazing creature, you know.. watching one wriggle across a leaf, often beautiful in its colouring and moving sinuously, co-ordinating its body wonderfully. Yet it’s programmed genetically to become something even more amazing. When it settles and spins its cocoon, the caterpillar quite literally self destructs. It’s not like Transformers, where it readjusts itself to turn into a butterfly. It actually turns into a sort of soup, breaking down completely until from the destruction something of beauty emerges. Without the death, there can never be the life.

The Revolutionary is key to metamorphosis – to a total and complete change in world view, behaviour, and action. It’s like the difference between pimping your car with a new spoiler, wide wall tyres and a banging sound system – or stripping it back to its chassis to turn it into a completely different car. In the TV show ‘Homeland’ a captured soldier is stripped back by his captors and turned into a terrorist agent – and again is reduced to ashes by the government and turned against his terrorist conspirators.

The Revolutionary is absolute, implacable, total. Nothing will remain of what was in order to create what could be.

And of course, the ultimate Destroyer is death itself. And often by recognising death earlier on in our lives – by facing our deaths early – we find a new courage. When my first business failed, and I was faced with crippling debt, I walked into the dark night of the soul. Everything that I had created – relationships, home, car, destiny was stripped from me. But by facing that, I realised that I could never be harmed by it again. I had stared Death in the face, and come to terms with it.

The Goal

The Revolutionary does not seek change just for change sake. It seeks to make a difference, to create something new out of what was. The revolutionary always seeks a better world – but just as a surgeon may have to cut deep to preserve life, the Revolutionary may have to dig deep into our lives and destroy what we held dear in order to create the change that we need. The goal is nothing other than complete metamorphosis – a total radical change that frees us up to be something new. Of course, we find this in the stories of Spiderman and Superman, transforming from mild mannered nobodies into avengers of justice. We find this in the story of King Arthur whose old comfortable life disappeared as he drew the sword from the stone. And of course in StarWars Luke’s journey is precipitated by the destruction of his uncle’s farm – and the Revolution is transformed by the destruction of the planet Alderaan.

Primal Fear

The Revolutionary, in many ways like the Seeker, fears stagnation, afraid that things will always be the same. That fear, of course, is often what propels him into action. The Revolutionary also fears death that does not lead to rebirth – that things may be destroyed yet nothing take its place. There are no guarantees in this world – as Indiana Jones had to step out into space to cross the chasm in ‘The Last Crusade’ before the invisible bridge became evident, we often have to ‘leap, and pray to God we can fly’ as Hitch said in the movie of the same name.

Response to the challenge

When faced with a challenge, or with danger, the only response open to the Revolutionary is to destroy it – or allow it to destroy them. Obi Wan Kenobi chose to be destroyed by Darth Vader and so move onto another plane of being – thus freeing Luke to make his own path. This is never destruction for destruction’s sake, by the way – this is the power of transformation, that allows us to move beyond death. The Revolutionary knows that something needs to be destroyed before something new can be created.

A Heroic Task

Often, we hold on to things for too long – we try, like the monkey with his fist trapped in the jar but unable to let go of the fist full of nuts, to find freedom while unable to let go of the past. The Revolutionary knows that in order to move on, we have to let go of the old that no longer serves us – to accept ‘that was then, but this is now’. The task of the Revolutionary is to clear the way, to get rid of everything that doesn’t ‘fit’. And sometimes, there will be the need to get rid of stuff that does still ‘fit’ – to clear out the cupboards, to get rid of things that are holding us down – not because they are wrong, or even that we have no use for them – but because we need to pay attention elsewhere – we need to focus our energies on something new – and the ‘old stuff’ will be a distraction.

The Gift

The Revolutionary, although creating a broad sweep of change, brings us humility and acceptance – a recognition of our own mortality, and of the fact that ‘all things must pass’. But also the Revolutionary brings the ability to create a new start – rather than just deciding to change one thing, we learn to throw everything out, to create a clean sweep that is totally transforming.

The shadow Revolutionary

Too much of the energy of the Revolutionary leads us to self destruct. We may find ways to damage or limit ourselves – perhaps through procrastination, or perhaps through a decision never to try. The shadow revolutionary may seek self destruction through drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviour that prevents us from living our true life.

Or the Revolutionary may turn that destructive power outwards – seeking to dominate and overthrow others, perhaps through violence but possibly through spreading rumours, or seeking to undermine others’ success.

And there is, too, the danger of revolution for revolution’s sake – a constant restlessness and decision to start again, often when the full harvest from what is in progress has yet to materialise.

Levels of the Revolutionary

The Revolutionary is called through destruction – a personal tragedy, a sense of loss, through pain or suffering. The path is never an easy one, and it is always a ‘revolutionary struggle’. Even Gandhi in his revolution of peace found it difficult, as did Martin Luther King – no great change is won easily and without discomfort.

At first, we grapple with the meaning of the loss – we have to go through a period of mourning for what has been destroyed, for the failure or disappearance of the old. All seems confusion, particularly if we have chosen to make radical changes, as things don’t turn out the way we expect. We find we have lost much – and yet that has not been replaced with anything else.

As time goes on, the Revolutionary grows into a place of acceptance, recognising that in order to create change, it is necessary to become powerless, to let go. We accept our limits, our mortality, knowing that even if failure is likely, it is essential to pursue our goals.

Finally, the Revolutionary emerges into a place of unattachment – able to let go of anything that no longer supports his values, his dreams, even if it has become precious or important. The Revolutionary simply drops that which no longer serves, in order to free himself up to take hold of that which gets him nearer his goal. The mature Revolutionary who has settled into the core of his or her power will learn to harness destruction and change where necessary, yet learning to hold on to that which still serves – seeking not so much to destroy, but to transform – looking to find that place of metamorphosis.

The ultimate story of the Revolutionary is that of Jesus, who proclaimed a new way in the face of generations of wisdom. The old ways of the patriarchs had served the Hebrews well until then – but a new sword was needed to cut away the old and leave space for the new. Jesus’ words are laced with revolutionary language, and of course this is what led the Jews – and the Romans – to accuse him of sedition. And of course Jesus paid the ultimate price – facing his own death with courage in order to step into a new incarnation of power and vision.

The Revolutionary’s story

Always, the Revolutionary’s story is one of great loss or pain – a story of great personal tragedy, or a sense of yearning or of ‘the void’ opening up. Dreams fail, that which is comfortable or familiar is ripped away.

On the journey, the Revolutionary learns to let go of those things that no longer serve, becoming lean and focussed. Old things drop away, and any illusions of youth and inauthentic patterns are held up to the harsh flame of reality. Eventually our hero faces his own death, and by passing through that death, creates a new and stronger power.

Exercises and dreaming

Where have you experienced loss in your life before? What has that freed you up to create? Where has tragedy or pain demonstrated an opportunity for you?

What in your life no longer serves you, or seems at odds with your current values? Where is ‘old stuff’ holding you back from stepping into the new? What do you need to do about that?

Imagine what your life might look like if you let go of all the things that were weighing you down, holding you back. How much different would your life be if you simply let go of those things now and step into something new, something that maybe has been calling to you…

Next time

That was a tough one – well done on staying with me. Next time, we’re going to explore the power of romance and the secrets of the Lover. Can’t wait? Me neither!

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 16

Exploration and Discovery–The Seeker–Walking with Heroes Part 10

meddle-pratchett

So, we meet again, on this voyage of discovery into heroes and adventurers. And so let’s take a look at another of those archetypal heroes that we uncover when we look deep into the core of our being. Because what we discover there is truly awesome….

If you remember, we took some time out in the last part to look at what drives us forward – and before that we looked at the power of the Caregiver to love and provide much needed compassion in our lives.

This time we begin The Journey – we start to step from a place of preparation into a place of adventure, where we actually let go of safe harbour and step into a journey that’s far more draughty, far more scary than we had encountered before. The previous archetypes seemed to be about protection – through love or through force – or about the nature of our own beings.

Now, we’re more about motion – about stepping out on the journey and making a difference in our lives – and the lives of others.

And as I have said before, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey. Mark that place well, because there are important messages for you here.

The stage of the journey

So we set out on the Journey itself. Something will have happened to move us into this place, to take those steps into the unknown, to move into change, and embrace new things in our lives. From this point, nothing will ever be the same again.

Whether it feels as if we have stepped onto this path by choice, or been forced onto it by circumstances outside of our control, at some level, metaphysically, we will have chosen this. Because at the deepest core of our beings we are meant for adventure and exploration. We are meant to be curious, discovering, walking into new situations. And this is the energy of the Seeker.

The nature of the Seeker

It is the Seeker that will drag us across the threshold of discovery, that will pull us out of normality and boredom, out of sameness into a richer and more beautiful – if scarier – place. This is what drives the gap year explorations of the world – but also what starts us out on a search for enlightenment and inner discovery. It’s also the energy that starts us looking for a better world, a more just world.

(You could also call the Seeker ‘the Explorer’. I prefer ‘Seeker’ because I can feel the energy within that of the search, the sense that we’re not just exploring for the sake of it, but that we are actively seeking something greater. You choose what works for you.)

Without something of the Seeker, then we will remain stale and stagnant – we will remain stuck. For all of us, something will move us to look for something new. We will begin a search for adventure – and perhaps find it in hedonistic pursuits, or in a meaningful purpose of loving service. Or we will look for answers deep inside ourselves, looking for our spiritual edge.

The only thing that will really satisfy us is to begin to step into our heroic nature – and heroes can never be found standing still. They are always on some sort of voyage of discovery. This is the world of Jason and the Argonauts, of the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, ‘seeking out new worlds’. This is where Dorothy found herself on the Yellow Brick Road – torn from safety by the tornado, but now motivated to explore the options that would release her from this strange world.

The Goal

The Seeker is motivated to search for something better. In the world of the seeker, the grass is definitely greener on the other side. Or anywhere else. And, in a sense, it always is – simply because it’s different. And that, for the seeker, makes it interesting. It will be the Seeker that decides that things can be better, can be different. The Seeker will be certain that answers exist, somewhere, and will clear everything out of his way to find them.

It was partly the Seeker that caused me to sell up and go on a journey round the world. As I think back, I know I was looking for adventure and discovery – a chance to explore the world that I had denied myself when I was younger. But also a search for some deeper answers – for meaning that I hadn’t until then found in my life.

Here’s where Luke Skywalker is looking for answers – answers to the mystery of who his father was, to the mystery of the message from a beautiful princess stuck in his R2 unit, and the secrets of the mysterious ‘Force’. And of course it’s that that drives all the great explorers from Magellan to Columbus – and those also who seek to explore the limits of human potential.

It’s the Seeker who will suddenly decide in the middle of a steady yet fundamentally unfulfilling career to go into business for herself – or to suddenly start sending out CVs in search of that perfect job. The seeker will often read voraciously, or embark on new programmes of study, or even new sports or pastimes just to see what happens. This is where the pioneer is – someone who would rather be on the road than settled in a safe and comfortable home.

Primal Fear

The primary fear of the Seeker is of course the idea of getting stuck. This might be fear of never achieving anything, of being stuck in a dull and dreary life. This might be the fear of just being like everyone else – conscious that somewhere inside burns a bigger and brighter light. The Seeker will be afraid that they are missing something – that somewhere out there lies the secret to life – or a party that they are missing out on.

The Seeker fears being trapped, held prisoner by circumstances or relationships. It may be that claustrophobia, that fear of confined spaces, is actually an outgrowing of that same sense of the need to discover, to be on the open road and to have clear skies above.

The Seeker may well be found amongst others who are the same… and yet they will fear conformity and be looking to differentiate themselves from others… and perhaps afraid of making the huge leap of faith that will make them truly stand out.

Response to the challenge

It may be a very natural thing to respond to the dragon by running away – but for the Seeker that comes from a different place, a different power. The Seeker is looking to simply get out of the place where the danger exists – recognising that in separating themselves from the place where the problem exists, then they will no longer experience the problem itself. If a difficult situation presents itself, then they will simply exempt themselves and leave. That’s not particularly a response from fear – but a pragmatic response that says ‘OK, time to change things around’.

In a very real sense the Hebrews of the Exodus were escaping from a tyrannical ruler – but also they knew that they needed to be ‘somewhere else’ and in fact to discover their land of promise and hope.

A Heroic Task

The Seeker is called to be true to something higher – to seek out and discover something. That might be a scientific discovery, or a new way of doing things. That might be a new social order, or a new understanding of humanity. It may be a deeper wisdom, a greater insight – or it may simply be a new freedom of being. It’s the Seeker’s nature to look for deeper meaning, to recognise that this is not ‘all there is’.

The Gift

The Seeker brings a sense of autonomy and independence – without that independence, there will be no Journey, no voyage of discovery. Here the Seeker finds that he or she can exist without others – that although they may crave companionship, that something greater and more exciting drives them further and further on.

(And, for sure, the philosophy of the Seeker will resurface in the future in the wisdom and understanding of the Sage, the Magician and the Fool).

The Seeker is compelled to take a risk – to move out from safe harbour and move into uncharted lands. Until he does, he will be restless and unfulfilled.

The shadow Seeker

There is a shadow in all of our heroes – that’s what makes them human. The Seeker’s idealistic restlessness is also his weakness. They find themselves unable to rest, unable to commit. They become addicted to new experiences, always looking for something greater. No sooner than they have found something they are looking to improve it, to go beyond. They may seek a greater ‘high’ or be continually unfulfilled by their job, or their relationships. And perhaps in that they have too much ambition, and too high a perfectionism. If anything is ‘wrong’ in their world, then rather than work through it, they simply up sticks and move on.

Levels of the Seeker

The call of the Seeker is usually an internal one – an increasing dissatisfaction with ‘What is’ and a search for ‘What could be’. If that call is ignored for too long, then something will happen to make that a reality… an unexpected redundancy, the end to a relationship, a massive life changing event. Or there may be an opportunity that is too good to pass up, a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance.

There is often a sense of emptiness, a yearning that must be filled by something.. and a certainty that an answer exists.. somewhere. Deep within is a core dissatisfaction with the status quo.

The Seeker’s mantra is always to say ‘Yes’ to the opportunities presented – to step without hesitation into something different – because the Seeker knows that everything new brings something better, something greater – even if that secret may be hidden at first.

At first, the Seeker will seek to scratch that itch by doing something – anything – new. They might start out by experimenting with new things, by deciding to write a new story for their lives. That’s exactly how I found myself on the morning of January 1st, 2000 – having spent Millennium Night essentially alone at a black tie ball, miles from family and friends, and having just been dumped by my girlfriend, I decided to write a new story for my life – seeking a better place, seeking to create something different. And that’s the journey that’s led me to this place today. I joined an adventure club, learned to dance and to ski and snowboard, and began a search for meaning and truth in life.

(A warning – you might find yourself feeling ‘I have too many responsibilities’ and simply reject that dream. Yet the real dream comes from a deeper, truer part of you – it’s a calling that cannot be ignored. Find some way to honour it, to accept it, and, ultimately, to call it into being. As Morpheus said in ‘The Matrix’ – the dream is real, Neo)

The Seeker may immerse themselves in study – seeking answers in the writings of others. After all, someone must know the answer, right? They will often dart from one thing to another, unable (or unwilling) to settle. All this change initially satisfies their quest for more – and for ‘different’ – and yet, ultimately the Seeker is looking for real answers.

The Seeker will often look to expend that energy in climbing the ladder of success – whether that ultimately yields financial success, or greater recognition – and ultimately, that won’t satisfy the Seeker either. There is certainly a drive for the Seeker to become ‘the best’ – not usually in competition with anyone else – but in competition with herself – reaching out to become all she can be, to see just how far she can go, just what she can achieve.

Ultimately, our Seeker hero will find herself on a search for meaning. Often that is a spiritual search. They step through the fire transformation into being something new and unique, and learn to be at peace with themselves. They find meaning whether it is in the admission of a higher power, or , curiously, in deciding that no such Higher Power exists. It is the wisdom and truth that they seek, and perhaps we need to recognise that, surprisingly, the only ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth. It’s said that the search for meaning is the call of God – that the enormous cosmic itch to discover truth is the heart of God in us calling to be united with All That Is. As Mohinder Suresh put it in ‘Heroes’:

‘So much struggle for meaning, for purpose, and in the end we find it only in each other – as shared experience of the fantastic – and the mundane. The simple human need to find a kindred – to connect and to know in our hearts that we are not alone’ .

At its highest expression, the Seeker is looking to bring new truth to the world – to climb the mountain and bring something back. And he who seeks – will find.

The Seeker’s story

The archetypal story of the Seeker is of feeling alienated in their community – perhaps by being ostracised for being ‘different’ or by being forced to conform when there is a huge dream in the heart that longs to be fulfilled. This is where Dick Whittington runs off to seek his fortune – or where the Prodigal Son becomes bored waiting for his inheritance and escapes to a far country.

The Seeker sets of on a journey on his own, certain that he is the only one who has ever felt this way.. and yet through finding truth, by learning how to live independently, by revelling in his difference, he discovers like minded companions who are on the same journey. He either rediscovers his family when he returns with new wisdom or a new gift for his tribe – or he settles with his newly discovered family. Until the desire to discover something new returns again!

Exercises and dreaming

Where do you feel yourself under pressure to conform? Where do you find your creativity stifled, your initiative blocked? Where do you find yourself thinking ‘life could be better than this?’

Take a few minutes to just breath and relax.. and then let your imagination go. What would you like to explore? What do you find yourself drawn to? What would, for you, symbolise freedom?

And just for a moment, because this is a story, after all, what would happen if you did seek out your dream? How would it feel? What would you do? What would it look like? Perhaps it’s time to write yourself a new story…

Next time

So, we’re on the journey. We’ve left safe harbour and we’re making things change. Next time we’re going to discover the power of the Revolutionary – the Destroyer – providing the energy to create change by destroying what is in order to build what could be.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 13

What moves you?–Walking with Heroes Part 9

canyon bridge-keller

Hello again! As promised, having looked at the first four Heroes over the last few episodes, we’re going to take time out to look at what motivates us on the journey.

Just to recap, we’ve looked so far at the Innocent, the Orphan, the Warrior and the Caregiver – all characters we encounter as we’re getting ready to step out on the journey. But what creates the motivation for us to move through life?

I’ve spent some time thinking about this – there’s a whole load of different theories about what drives us forward, what motivates us to action – Abraham Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs is one model, as is Manfred Max-Neef’s Human Scale Development. The model I like, partly because it’s simple (always good for me), and partly because it seems complete, is one that American uber-coach Tony Robbins uses to explain human motivation. I’ve taken that model and extended it to cover some of my own discoveries on the subject.

So let’s get started . .

An overview

Here’s the overall model laid out for you… we’re going to dive deeper into each one of these but just to give you a feel for how it fits together:

drivers

Generally we need to make sure that the lower levels of the model are complete before the others start to become important. So without some level of free will, for example, we can’t make choices about security or adventure. When our world is falling apart, we don’t have the time to worry about our identity – and so on.

So let’s have a look at the different layers…

Freedom

I believe that freedom lies at the core of our motivation. Without freedom we are unable to decide for ourselves, or to make choices. Without freedom we are controlled, limited, dependent on others. We may find our freedom limited by the political regime, or by circumstances. We may find ourselves locked into a relationship that is controlling – and of course prison takes freedom away. But illness can also make us totally reliant on others, either at a physical or a mental level.

Whatever is happening, our primary drive is going to be to choose freedom first. Now, we may sublimate that drive in order to meet another need (for example, choosing a crushingly dull job in order to pay the rent) – but we do that by choice rather than because we are driven to.

The shadow side of freedom is aimlessness and a rejection of being part of anything – a desire to live a totally independent life without cause to help – or to be helped by – others.

Security (subsistence and protection)

Until we have our core security needs met, we’re not going to be able to move forward into any other part of our life. This is the position of the Innocent – who is naturally secure – and the Orphan – who has just realised that the world is a scary place.

Our security needs are basic safety needs (knowing the ground isn’t going to give way and that our lives are not in danger) through to survival needs like food and water. In modern life, security can also extend to things like job security, concerns about the state of the economy or political map, or relationship issues.

We never get ourselves to completely secure. It’s odd, but often those who have the most are more insecure – largely because they know that they could lose everything. Conversely, a man who has little may feel very very secure because what he doesn’t have cannot be taken away! Change is also a huge factor in security issues – some people can get freaked out at the amount of change happening around them – and certainly if they feel out of control in a situation that’s changing all the time then their perception of their personal security will plummet.

It’s good to get these basic needs out of the way.. so we can move on with the bigger questions without needing to revisit these issues. It’s good, for example to get the money thing out of the way so we can concentrate on more important issues.

The shadow side of Security is of course the need to provide this at all costs – to become selfish and potentially breaking the law in pursuit of security – or to become unable to function in the bigger world.

Adventure

One of the features of Security is the need for constancy – to limit change and control our lives. However, counterbalancing this is the drive for Adventure. We crave excitement and thrill, and we become uncomfortable if things stay the same. This is the place of the Warrior – stepping out to conquer new worlds.

Adventure can take many forms – for some it will be exploration – genuine adventure through travel and journeying. For others, that adventure might be exploring the human psyche and journeying within. Others will find their adventure in the world of romance or sensuality, or in hobbies and interests. Still others will seek their variety vicariously through TV programming and reality shows, or in sports. What we’re looking for here is variety – keeping ourselves interested in life.

And of course the shadow is the thrill seeking hedonist, living only for pleasure, or the wanderer, moving from place to place, unable to settle due to the restless drive for change.

Connection (affection and participation)

One of the highest drives is for connection – in particular, connection to other human beings (although some will fulfill this through connection to the animal world, through their pets and household animals. Each one of us seeks out a connection to others, and cannot be complete without it. This is the space of the Caregiver – although of course the Orphan is feeling the loss of connection keenly too. Potentially we explore this through our families, through our friends, through intimate relationships. We will also find it through clubs and societies, through shared purpose, whether that is charity work or holding a season ticket to a football club. And of course web sites like Twitter and Facebook play to this need for connection – and perhaps in our on line world our need for connection is even greater.

The shadow side is that of dependency and obsession, of making demands on others.

Identity

Just as Security was balanced by Adventure, so Connection is balanced by Identity. Whereas Connection seeks sameness and a sense of commonality, seeking to join and be part of, Identity seeks to be apart – to be different. This is often the drive for achievement – in sport, in science, in entertainment. We need to stand out, to say ‘This is who I am’. It’s the drive that causes us to want to be the best possible version of ourselves.

Identity causes us to stand out, to achieve – to cease to become ‘part of the herd’. It’s the drive for fame – or, at the very least, for uniqueness.

The shadow is an obsession with celebrity – or a need to have our own way at the expense of others. It may also cause us to deny the connection to others – or, potentially, to become members of organisations that stand against social norms.

Higher needs

Of course, all of these are high value drivers, if we choose to make them so. Connection and Love are closely related, as is Identity and Achievement. Adventure helps us discover ourselves, while Security keeps us grounded. Yet the next Human Drivers allow us to let go of our self centredness and move beyond into self actualization.

Learning and Growing

Each one of us has an inbuilt drive to become better. It’s that drive that allows us to recognise that we are not all we could be – to seek to be the highest possible demonstration of our greatest potential. This is the drive for evolution, to discover who we truly are. Again, it will support the need to be better – to push the boundaries of what we can achieve, whether that is in sport or in life. Learning also introduces curiosity – the chance to look at the world and wonder ‘why?’ ‘how?’ ‘what if?’.

And the shadow? Simply the desire for perfection, the drive to continually improve – and also the focus on one single area at the expense of the rest of our lives.

Contribution

Connection is all about the desire to be part of something. Contribution causes us to want to make a difference – to recognise that we have an opportunity to create beyond ourselves. At this point we really are thinking outside of our own selfishness and our own little sphere and looking at the bigger picture. We may find Contribution through volunteer work or through raising children. We may find it through our work, through creation on behalf of others – something that raises our day to day employment above the mundane and into a new expression of who we truly are as we find ourselves expressing our love for others.

The shadow side of contribution is of course the role of martyr – pouring ourselves out for others while never truly deciding who we are and what we want.

Meaning

I’m still searching for the right word for this – but it does seem to me that for each of us there is a drive for meaning in the universe. For some, this will take the form of a spiritual search, while others will seek a humanist response and look to the world of science for their answers. Each one of us recognises that we are a very small part of a very large universe – a tiny piece of stardust in a galaxy of stars. We can choose to recognise our place in that universe – to choose (as Einstein suggested) that the universe is a friendly place or we can decide that we are simply machines, alone in the vastness. Each is a spiritual response, by the way – for our spirituality and understanding of the metaphysics of life is an open choice.

Exercises and dreaming

Take some time out and look at each one of the human needs here. How are you seeking to meet each of them? Is there one that needs attention, where you’re not feeling fulfilled, where that need is simply not being met? Is there one of them that you are in thrall to – where that need is causing you problems, or where you are seeking to meet that need in a way that does not truly serve you?

And do you need to step into the space offered by higher drives – to yield to the need to learn and grow, to contribute, and to discover meaning and purpose?

Next time

So, we’ve taken time out to look at what motivates us on our journey through life. Each of us will be motivated differently, by the way – there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ here. But the next step is the first step into the real journey . . . and we begin with the Seeker – the Explorer.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 11

Compassion and kindness–The Caregiver–Walking with Heroes Part 8

heartbreak - oliver

Welcome back…  it’s time to discover another of the heroes that shape our lives – the heroes that we discover when we look deep into our own hearts. And the heroes we find there may surprise us.

Last time we looked at the Warrior – in our more enlightened times the Warrior may seem an anachronism, out of place in a world where we strive for peace – and yet the Warrior has much to teach us in terms of fighting for success and demanding victory.

Again, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

This is the final part of Preparation for the journey. At this point, we’re nearly ready to step into the unknown. Our basic training is complete, and we have learned the skills that allow us to function in the world at large. We have learned to fight – and now we must learn to love.

The toughness and drive to succeed of the warrior must be tempered with something stronger than steel – with something that has more power than any force on earth – and here we encounter – the Caregiver.

The nature of the Caregiver

If the Warrior is all about success on the world’s stage – about creating a career, about pursuing a future, about the fight to create a world that meets your desires and your dreams – then the Caregiver is when we encounter parenthood in one form or another.

The Caregiver is the ideal balance to the relentless drive of the warrior – bringing love, looking to care for others. Without the Caregiver, the Warrior is harsh, unfeeling, looking for personal success. With the balance of the Caregiver, then the fight develops a purpose. The struggle becomes more than just success, victory, the defeat of an opponent – but to create a stable environment for ourselves and others.

One word of caution here – we need to find ways to bring ourselves under the Caregiver’s protection. If we do not love and care for ourselves, then we will find it hard to love others. The biblical injunction is to ‘love others as ourselves’ – we need to maintain that balance if we are to have anything to give in the long term.

Yet the Caregiver without the Warrior will result in sentimentality and in inaction – floundering in a sea of niceness but without purpose. It’s the Warrior instinct that is invoked when a tiger’s cubs are threatened – turning from loving parent to snarling defence of her cubs in an instant.

The Goal

Up until now, our goal has been primarily selfish. Here we step into loving and caring for others. Here we really connect with the desire to make a difference, to change the lives of others through love and sacrifice. It’s built into each one of us at a foundational level – although many manage to sublimate it and hide it deep within, the need to love and care for others is a primary human drive and needs to find expression.

Here is where grizzled smuggler Han Solo finds a fatherly love and affection for the young Skywalker – and where the motley band of rebels learn to create family for each other. This is what drives John MacLaine to rescue the hostages in ‘Die Hard’ – not only the sense that he is a new York cop, but also to fight for his estranged wife – and for the others under threat. Here is the affection of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in ‘Lord of the Rings’ that will cause them to offer their own safety to protect the hobbits – and the impetus that will drive Sam Gamgee to follow Frodo deep into Mordor.

The Caregiver looks to find a way to protect those under their care, if necessary sacrificing their own safety to defend them. Not only do they look to protect from physical harm – they also look to provide, to encourage, to help their protégées to grow and become self reliant.

Primal Fear

The Caregiver fears challenges to their identify as selfless protectors – they fear accusations of selfishness and stinginess that undermine their belief in themselves as laying their lives on the line. Perhaps more than any, because loving others seems so hard, it’s very easy for this belief to creep in – ‘what if I’m not really loving? What if deep down inside I am just as selfish as anyone else? What will happen when the chips are down?’ The Caregiver must seek deep inside themselves to know the truth of their heroic response.

Similarly, the Caregiver fears ingratitude and thoughtlessness – worried that their efforts will go unnoticed.

Response to the challenge

The Caregiver has a very different response to the dragon’s arrival. When confronted with the fire breathing menace, the Caregiver will respond with love rather than violence. If others are under threat, then the Caregiver will seek to comfort and help them, taking care of those who have been injured and hurt. But also the Caregiver will seek to find the best in the dragon, seeking to take care of it and looking for where it itself is injured. Here we find Androcles (the warrior) taking the thorn from the lion’s paw.

A Heroic Task

The Caregiver is called to love – to bring kindness and compassion into the world. It’s the core of existence – as the spiritual text ‘A Course In Miracles’ encourages us that Love is at the very core of existence – that there is only Love or Fear – and that Fear does not exist. The Course invites us to ask continually “What would Love do now?”

Yet it’s very easy for the caregiver to find themselves poured out in the service of others. Without taking care of our own needs, it’s possible to feel stretched, to lose touch with our own identity. Balancing the needs of others with our own needs is a task that needs continual attention – whether that means a temporary retreat into our own space, or taking time out to look after ourselves – without it the Caregiver will collapse under their self imposed demands.

The Gift

The heart of the Caregiver is of compassion and generosity. Driven by Love, they see tenderness and caring as the answer to Life’s troubles, knowing that as they pour Love out on a needy world, that the world will become a better place.

The shadow Caregiver

Love and compassion are incorruptible at their core. And yet sometimes those step beyond true love. Sometimes the Caregiver becomes the suffering martyr – unable to voice their own needs and taking pleasure in being put upon by all comers. The martyr will use guilt and obligation to control those in their care. While it has the semblance of love, this domination is totally loveless at its core.

We can also find that the Caregiver overcomes the Warrior instinct – while the Warrior seeks to succeed, parents can often find their drive to succeed wrapped up in the need to provide – giving up their own need for success in the desire to provide for their family, and making safe choices rather than listen to the call of their own hearts.

Levels of the Caregiver

Often, the Caregiver is invoked when a position of responsibility is thrust upon our hero. That may be a young family, an ailing relative or a work team to care for. (Take heed – it’s often necessary, particularly in a work situation, to find a balance between leading the team (Warrior) and nurturing it (Caregiver) – the best leaders dance the fine path between these two). In Mulan, the Caregiver role is Eddy Murphy’s Dragon – protecting and encouraging Mulan in her ordeal in the army bootcamp.

Initially, the Caregiver struggles to balance their own needs with those of others, and in an attempt to fulfil their role often sacrifice themselves for others. Unchecked, this can lead to burn out and to disillusionment. It is essential to step into a new level of caring for yourself to guarantee that others receive the best care – and that your own personal life is enriched through the process rather than being drained. At the same time, a mature Caregiver must learn tough love – allowing those in their care to step into their own destiny rather than keeping them safe within the nest.

At its highest level, the Caregiver steps beyond their own immediate charges – their family and friends – and into a larger role of caring at a societal or global level, building communities and building bonds with others.

The Caregiver’s story

Typically the story of the Caregiver is one of being drawn into providing for others – of caring at the expense of their own dreams. Eventually the drain of constantly providing for others leads to a sense of maiming and a frustration with life and the boundaries placed on them. Stepping into new opportunities and stepping into their own adventure, discovering their own path, enables them to return with a new sense of the power of Love – and empowers them to step into a new experience of that Love – being able to demonstrate that at a new level and in a new and bigger sphere of influence – enriching both their own lives and the lives of others.

Exercises and dreaming

What would you do for others if you had infinite resources? If all your dreams, all your wants, all your needs were met – how would you take that abundance and give away to others?

Where do you find yourself stretched by your perceived responsibilities to others? Does expressing these responsibilities help you feel more ‘you’ or do you find it getting in the way of your own dreams? How could you balance the needs of others with your own goals – or is it time to step into something else now?

Next time

We’ve covered the four archetypes of Preparation: Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, Caregiver. The next step is the first step into the real journey . . .

Before that, though, we’re going to take a time out next time and look at the needs that drive each one of us – how we can find ways of fulfilling our needs that provide balanced and powerful motivation on our journey.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 10

Boundaries and Battlegrounds–The Warrior–Walking with Heroes Part 7

stand - cooper

Hi there, fellow traveller – we’re now well on our way on our journey to discover the characters and heroes that thread their way through our lives. I’m sure you’re starting to see where some of the characteristics of the Innocent and the Orphan show up in your life – and you will, I am sure, be able to embrace their strengths and find ways to acknowledge those places where they are not so strong – to look into the shadow and to transcend it.

Remember, last time we looked at the Orphan – and the gift that embracing the archetype of the Orphan brings: an understanding of how we depend on each other, and on the need for true empathy as we reach out to others.

As ever, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

Again we’re still in Preparation for the journey. And here we move from the passivity and surrender of the Innocent and the Orphan and begin to see an active role where we begin to mould the universe and begin to transform our world. Initially, of course, our actions are clumsy and juvenile – yet as we grow we begin to step into models of power that will stay with us forever.

The first response of those that find themselves helpless and lost is to seek safety again… but when that option is closed to us, then we have to step into new shoes. We have to learn to fight for ourselves – and for others. We have to become someone else – we have to become something else… and we take on the mantle of the Warrior.

The nature of the Warrior

There’s a sense in these enlightened times that the brutishness of the Warrior is a relic of another more primitive world. And yet without the desire to fight for what we want, we lack the driving force and impetus to move forward. Without the Warrior we lack the will to win, to succeed, to triumph. So the Warrior isn’t really about warfare – it’s about the struggle, about the battle. And as we step into life, as we begin to navigate the twists and turns of the world, then we need to start to pursue our own agendas. The Warrior brings the reinforcing of boundaries – the sense that ‘this is what I want’. The Warrior allows us to defend ourselves. And as we grow more all embracing, the Warrior allows us to defend others.

The Warrior is the true hero – the one who steps into the gap and makes things happen. And sometimes, it’s not about brute force and strength – it’s about a quiet inner determination to create change – a demand that things should be different. We often see this in the path of some martial arts. While Karate or Kempo for example can be quite strong and harsh, relying on the power of blocks and counter attacks, many other martial arts like Tai Chi or Aikido focus more on redirection of energy – defeating an opponent without harming them.

In terms of our personal development, the warrior is the hero that helps us make our way in the world – seeking our place, looking to succeed in our careers and in the workplace. Without the warrior we will never step out to conquer Life – and will always seek safety.

I had a very significant confrontation with the power of the warrior – having looked very closely at the strengths of the different heroes operating in my life, it was clear that the warrior was a place that I had found myself weak. Perhaps driven by the Christian mantra of ‘love your enemies’ I had lost sight of the need to succeed, the need to defend, the need to fight for what truly mattered to me. As I listened to the response of two young men, one a Jew, one a Palestinian, as they attempted to make sense of the events of 9/11, I realised that there was a space for the Warrior in my life – a Warrior who would fight for the rights of others – and of myself – a Warrior who would look to create success and victory.

The Goal

Our hero has just been confronted with his or her weakness in the uncovering of the Orphan – suddenly lost, defenceless, alone. The Warrior brings the opportunity to reverse that. Suddenly the goal is to win, to protect, to defend. The Warrior will seek to make a difference, to change the status quo. When combined with the energy of the Caregiver (more spoilers!) the Warrior will stand in the gap for others, defending and fighting for their rights.

The Warrior has a tremendous sense of right and wrong, a well developed awareness of justice. And yet the warrior will always seek to make a difference through struggle – the concept that there is an easier way will often elude him! The Warrior will hack his way through a forest to rescue the princess, or face the dragon.

When Luke Skywalker finds himself lost and alone on Tattooine, his response is to seek revenge on the murderers of his family. It takes a wiser mentor to guide him into a more measured response. The university professor Indiana Jones learns to fight to defend the relics of power from those who would abuse them.

Response to the challenge

No prizes for guessing that the the response to the appearance of the dragon is to strike back and destroy it. More enlightened warriors might seek to convert it rather than destroy it, but always the Warrior will seek to gain control over the situation.

The Warrior response reminds us that through courage, struggle, bravery, determination and sacrifice we can overcome evil and reach our goals.

Sometimes, of course, our response can be inappropriate or self defeating. Shrek finds himself up against a fearsome dragon which he tries to defeat – before realising that the terrifying creature is actually in love with his travelling companion.

Often, as we go through life, we discover others who try to take advantage of us – or who simply ‘push our buttons’ and annoy us. Unchecked, this inability to defend our own personal space can lead to emotional uncertainty and potentially to locking our true selves away to create safety – or often to things like skin conditions (the skin being the physical analogue to the emotional boundary space). We need to find ways of reinforcing our boundaries without counterattack. I find this quite a lot in spiritual seekers, who believe (quite rightly) that love is the answer. Unfortunately, in seeking the path of love they can find themselves put upon or abused – and it’s expected that a loving response will be to ‘turn the other cheek’. Not so – we find that defending our boundaries is the only true loving response – to love ourselves and the other person, and to create a clear statement of ‘this far and no further’.

A Heroic Task

The task of the Warrior is to decide what really matters – rather than defending every situation, to decide which battles to fight, which struggle is important. This is high level assertiveness – to know when to resist and where to let go. We often fall into the trap of believing that the response to attack is always to counter attack. Not so. There is a wonderful story of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern day karate, who encountered a belligerent drunk on a train. The drunk was squaring up to fight, and with his new found skills, Funakoshi prepared to counter. A wiser onlooker took the drunk to one side and simply talked to him – defusing the situation without conflict.

The Warrior will have learn wisdom to decide which battles to fight, and which battles should be surrendered – to decide what is truly important and what can be let go of to conserve energy and resources. Yet if this is a conscious decision, no boundaries are violated. The Ewoks in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at first seem to flee – only to lead the Empire’s stormtroopers to regret their belief that the cuddly creatures would be easy to defeat.

The Gift

This modern world with its emphasis on success and on courage in the face of defeat finds it easy to recognise the gifts that the warrior brings. Nowadays this archetype, despite its relative immaturity, is the pattern on which modern society is built – a culture of success, of winning at all costs – where our heroes are those who have learnt to fight – Rocky, Rambo, Die Hard’s John MacLaine, or a myriad successful businessmen, or our media stars who have fought to get where they are.

Yet the true gift of the Warrior, the gift of courage, of discipline, of perseverance is a recipe for true power when tempered, as ever, with Love.

And let’s not forget the dedication to the warrior’s skill – hours spent honing their skills. At the point where a black belt receives the belt that they have trained for long long years for, they are reminded that this is the point where learning starts. Luke must spend long and embarrassing hours learning to master the power of ‘The Force’. Rocky spends many bloody hours training to finally defeat his opponent in the ring.

The shadow Warrior

Perhaps the energy of the Warrior leads itself to be more easily sublimated into a shadow side. Perhaps the fact that the Warrior must by necessity walk the fine line between righteousness and evil, continually patrolling that moral neutral ground lays the possibility for the shadow to rise up and consume him.

The shadow Warrior is consumed by a need to win at all costs – to step beyond what is morally right in search of conquest at all costs. The shadow will see threats everywhere around, leading to paranoia and fear – to which the only response can be to attack. There is a danger that the shadow warrior will become ruthless, uncaring and lacking in morality and principle. Peter Parker finds himself consumed with rage over his uncle’s death – and is later consumed by a darker Spiderman, wrestling with himself to overcome it. This is the space of the antihero – ultimately fighting for what’s right, but using questionable means and acting from questionable motives.

Levels of the Warrior

The Warrior is invoked by a challenge, a threat, an obstacle – or perhaps simply a vision of ‘something more’ – a mountain to climb, a wrong to be righted, a place to conquer. The greater the challenge, the bigger the obstacle – the more the Warrior has to reach inside himself to meet the threat. Mulan steps in to protect her father – catapulting her into deception as she seeks to hide the fact that she’s a woman from the other army recruits, while she draws on resources way beyond herself to show that she deserves her place on the battlefield.

Initially, the Warrior, driven by his own needs and fears, will fight for himself. It will take wisdom and insight, the words of a wiser mentor, or a moment where he faces his own weakness for him to learn wisdom. Initially his response will be to win at all costs – an uncontrolled fist fight, wading in without thought consumed by the need to protect – or driven by presumption, bravado, or a lack of forethought. As the Warrior matures, the scars of battle bring with them a new depth of understanding. Rather than rushing in all guns blazing, the enlightened warrior learns to choose his battles, and embraces the rules of competition. Rather than fighting as a response to attack, the enlightened warrior will only act on his or her principles and values.

If a Warrior truly learns to temper winning with peace and co-operation, then they step into a world where the Warrior fights only for what truly matters, for great causes. Diplomacy becomes more the order of the day – yet always backed by the presence of steel, and the certainty that if diplomacy fails, then the Warrior will back his words with decisive action.

The Warrior’s story

The core story of the Warrior is of setting out on a journey, whether prompted by a need for adventure or as a response to a deeper call or necessity, or simply due to the destruction of a previous existence. Along the way, the warrior encounters the dragon – a challenge or obstacle, a barrier to be overcome or an evil to be defeated. By slaying the dragon the warrior releases the princess – or finds the key to unimaginable treasures and power.

Of course, sometimes the military response unleashes a greater threat. Beowulf slays Grendel only to be confronted with the fury of Grendel’s mother. Skywalker looks to avenge his family and discovers the horror of his own ancestry. It will take the wisdom and restraint of higher role models to curb the youthful immaturity and find the keys to harnessing the Warrior’s power.

Exercises and dreaming

Where have you failed to reinforce your boundaries in your life – are there places where you have not defended your own rights – perhaps in the expectation that you should be ‘kind’? What steps can you take to prevent that happening and take back the ground you have lost?

What is your response to confrontation – do you surrender or do you stand and fight? Is there space for a more balanced approach?

Look at some of the movie and story book heroes. Look at how they handle themselves, at their fears – and their determination to overcome. Many of them started out in fear and trembling and yet became great heroes – the stuff of legends.

Next time

In the next part we’re going to look at the balance to the Warrior – the response of love and tenderness through the Caregiver. When these two work together, the foundation of true power is laid…

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 08

Loss and disappointment–The Orphan–Walking With Heroes Part 6

kubler-ross

So – let’s take another step into discovering some of the heroes and characters that populate the stories of our lives. Last time we looked at the Innocent – and perhaps you wondered if the Innocent can really be a ‘hero’. Well, there’s a tremendous gift in innocence, you know – there’s something liberating and refreshing about that level of trust. I certainly hope I never lose it.

Again, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

Here we’re still in Preparation for the journey. Remember that we started out in Innocence – and, by the way, to Innocence we will return. (Sorry, plot spoiler there, but it’s worth remembering!). If we remain in Innocence, then nothing will happen – for sure, you’ll be safe – but that’s not what life is about. Somewhere, someone, some event, some opportunity or disaster will push you out of the nest and force you to learn to fly. At some point we have to develop muscles and power – we have to take action into our dreams.

So here’s where we find ourselves when we step beyond the naiveté of the innocent: we discover the Orphan.

The orphan discovers that the world is not always a friendly place – that pain and difficulty are all too real. This sudden collision with reality is what spurs into action – otherwise, why would we leave the peace and safety of our innocence. This is where Luke Skywalker finds his aunt and uncle dead and the farm destroyed. This is where the Sorcerer’s Apprentice finds his curiosity met with disaster.

The nature of the Orphan

It isn’t necessarily a genuine physical orphaning, of course – but that sense that not everything is candy pink in FairyLand – that dragons and demons are only too real and that danger lurks round every corner. Every illusion that the innocent held is shattered as a harsher reality sets in. Often, though, we don’t question whether the painful realities of the Orphan are any more or less real than those of the Innocent. What if the Innocent is right and the world really IS a friendly place?

Yet without the revelation of the Orphan, there will be no discovery and exploration. There will be no understanding that the world is greater than that occupied by safety and security, and that risks will need to be taken. The knowledge that we are incomplete allows us to step into something more – to take on new characters as we develop and grow – for sure, the Orphan knows that she is not enough on her own. Its the energy of the Orphan that draws companions and mentors into his life. These companions and mentors help our new hero deal with the crazy chaos that he’s just stepped into – they help him make sense of this jumbled world and help him to function in a space where danger lurks round every corner.

Another way of seeing the Orphan is as Everyman – the ordinary joe trying to make his or her way through life, often amazed at the difficulties that arise, confused by the chaos and complexity that is uncovered, and yet doggedly determined to simply keep on going.

The Goal

Having just stepped into the path from Innocence into Orphan, the primary goal of the Orphan is quite simple – stay safe. It’s a natural tendency to run from danger and from insecurity into secure safety. Yet simply turning round and stepping back isn’t an option. The safe harbour is no more – the ‘fruit of the tree knowledge of good and evil’ can not be un-eaten. The cataclysmic event that launched us on the journey cannot be undone. The Orphan has seen that something else is possible… and the dragon stands at her back urging her onward.

In Indiana Jones (and, for that matter, in Shrek and a thousand other films) there’s a rope bridge that spans a chasm. We step onto that bridge running from danger – or seeking the prize – and find ourselves half way across with rotting planks and fraying ropes. The bridge swings precariously while every gust of wind threatens to hurl us into the abyss below. To return or to go on? Yet there really is no choice: in every story, the only way is onward. If we even consider stepping backward to the side we have just left, then the danger behind us begins to breathe fire, while the ropes begin to unravel – always it’s the far side that’s the only safe option… even if it doesn’t seem that way. Safety lies in stepping forward, never in running backward.

Primal Fear

The Orphan has discovered that not all is sweetness and light. Suddenly the possibility of danger exists – and with it the possibility of being exploited and victimised. Up until that point everyone was kind and generous – now danger lurks in every kindness. The Orphan sees danger around every corner, and any step forward may lead to disaster. Although the Orphan knows he needs help on the journey, he will have to learn to trust others. And yet, that basic lack of trust will forge the friendships that last, the companionship that will last in the white heat of the trials to come. When Luke meets Han Solo, he is wary and dismissive – distrustful of Han’s motivation and of his boasts in the abilities of the Millenium Falcon. As the hobbits set out on their journey they are distrustful of those who will turn out to be their greatest allies – the mysterious Strider for one.

Response to the challenge

The dragon has appeared, and disaster has struck. The immediate response of the orphan is to seek help and rescue. In our modern world when independence is lauded and individual heroism is praised, it is a brave man who calls for help when needed. If the initial panic and search for a saviour can be tamed, then the Orphan’s response is one of maturity – who can help me, who has been here before, who has the skills I need? Who can I join forces with?

The key to maintaining our power at this point is knowing that we are the leaders of our own destiny – that only by retaining our own desires in the situation can we hope to get the outcome we want. Anything else leads to surrender, to cynicism and to mere meek compliance – led away like sheep to slaughter and surrendering our own dreams to those of another.

A Heroic Task

You might think that this powerlessness has no merit or application. And yet there is an essential task for our orphaned hero – to truly step into the pain and disillusionment of our loss, to truly process that pain, to embrace it fully rather than running from it. Only by truly facing our pain and letting it shred us as fully as it can will we be able to transform it and step beyond into something else. Here, ‘everything is working out perfectly’ is not naïve assumption but something that has to be held in faith – despite appearances, knowing that things will work out and throwing ourselves into recovering paradise.

The Gift

Stripped of safety and yet not yet grown into power – what gift can the Orphan possibly hold? What will she bring to the journey to aid others? Having stepped into the harsh cold wind of danger and loss, having experienced what it’s like to have all security ripped away, the Orphan is best placed to provide empathy and understanding of how we are all dependent on each other. It’s all too easy to forget how we were once lost and helpless, how we took our first fumbling steps on the journey. The Orphan reminds us to look back in love and support for those who follow us, and reminds us of the need at all times for companionship and those who will simply walk alongside us. Only by overcoming the pain of betrayal and loss can we step into new and powerful supportive relationships.

The shadow Orphan

At its simplest, the Orphan leads to understanding and ultimately to hope. However, the shadow side is always real and can drag our hero down into the darkest places. Without hope, we can become cynical and harsh. We can begin to use our victimhood to manipulate others and to find ways to get our way while remaining thoroughly stuck and entrenched. Often we will not see this as what we are doing – we will simply see ourselves as needy and helpless – and yet the secret of success and recovery always lies within. As Luke discovered, the Force was already growing strong within him and would lead not only to his salvation but to the restoration of peace to the galaxy. Frodo would look deep within himself to discover resolve and power that would save Middle Earth. And you and I will find new resources to allow us to step bravely into the future with the aid of those around us.

Levels of the Orphan

The Orphan is called into being by some trauma in his or her life. That may be as simple as growing up, or by some sense of loss. It may be loss of a job, death of a loved one, or a personal trauma. At some point, everything that kept us safe is stripped away – everything on which we relied for security disappears like smoke.

Initially the Orphan will feel abandoned, unloved, helpless and victimised. Powerless to step forward, we look back to the golden years where all was well, or despair of a future that we cannot see and do not have the resources to reach.

Steadily, though, the Orphan begins to acknowledge possibilities – that there is always hope. Reconciling himself to his plight, the Orphan lays a base for a realistic evaluation of the situation. She begins to realise that the answers lie within rather than some mythical rescuer – and that others have been here before her.

Although a recognition of her own inner core is rising, our hero begins to acknowledge the need for others, and welcomes the assistance and friendship of companions on the journey. No longer is the answer sought in institutionalised authority, in government or in religion, but is understood to be something that we create in interdependent relationships – that we will not be rescued but will join together with others to forge our own pathway out of crisis.

The Orphan’s story

The archetypal story of the Orphan is that of losing Paradise where all is well, and where safety reigns, into a place of loss and abandonment, of fear and alienation. There is no way back to security – the only way is onward into the unknown and those steps must be taken alone. Yet on the journey they discover the power of companionship and of what can be achieved by working with others.

The Orphan begins to see the possibilities of a new paradise – it may be far off, but faith begins to grow and hope is strengthened.

Exercises and dreaming

Think back to places and times in your childhood (or in your recent past) when you found yourself betrayed, or when things no longer went the way you expected. What were the real moments of loss in your life? What have you learned from them that gives you faith for the future? What doe you know now that yields an answer and gives you hope – and if you can’t see that right now, what would it be like if you imagined you knew the answer.

Consider your life at the moment. Where are you resisting the friendships and relationships that will enable you to step forward?

Next time

Next we’re going to start to step into the responses of power – to look at the Warrior – but for now, look at where the Orphan appears in your life, and where maybe understanding the gift of loss that brings you hope and faith might help you move forward.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 05

Safety and Security- The Innocent-Walking with Heroes Part 5

innocent

Aloha! It’s time to put the pedal to the metal and start to meet the cast of this hero’s journey – our exploration of the stories that rule our lives. As we go through, you might find yourself resonating with one or more of the characters and stories that we uncover. Remember also the hero’s journey – the typical journey starts out with someone naïve and inexperienced, who goes through several stages of transformation on his or her journey to enlightenment, redemption, victory and wisdom.

In introduction

These characters, our heroes, are called archetypes – they embody typical characteristics and patterns of behaviour and belief… but you’ll recognise them – both in yourself and in the myths and stories that we tell. Because, remember, the only reason we tell stories is to embody truth. (What? You mean you thought they were to entertain? Only on the surface….)

As we go, we’ll look at the characteristics of the archetype – we’ll look at their task and the gift they bring, at their fears and the way they deal with danger, and how they evolve. We’ll also look at the shadow side – what happens when that particular characteristic is given too much power. And as we go, consider the strengths of the individual archetypes – one or more may be at the forefront of our lives, but to operate as a rounded and whole individual able to deal with everything that life brings, we need to have balance.

I found out, for example, that the warrior archetype was quite weak for me. That meant that it was easy for people to trample across my boundaries and take me for granted – with a subsequent knock on effect in the rest of my world. By paying attention to that part of my psyche, I built a strength and a resistance to being taken advantage of – along with an ability to fight for what is right rather than meekly accepting it.

The stage of the journey

We start out at a stage of our personal evolution called Preparation. This stage is our learning stage – a stage where we are being made ready for the challenges we face. Here the basic traits that are going to be essential to our evolution and our survival are created and strengthened. For sure, we’re going to learn more on the journey – through experience, through our teachers and mentors, and through divine inspiration – but the core skills, the core beliefs, the core understandings of life are created here.

And so let’s introduce the first of our characters – the Innocent

We all start out here, you know. Obviously, as children, we are naïve and trusting, expecting everything to work out for us. We rely on others to do the work for us, to love us and care for us. There is something wonderful and refreshing about that innocence, that sense that life is meant to be easy and simple, that doors will automatically open for us, and that the Universe itself seeks our good. As Einstein himself is rumoured to have said “The most important question a person can ask is, ‘Is the Universe a friendly place?’” The Innocent will be certain that the answer is “Yes”.

The nature of the Innocent

There is of course a sense of trusting and of believing that all will be well – and of course some of that is born out of simple naïvety… but go deeper beyond that and you’ll find a deeper and more primal trust in the rightness of things – that everything is in its place and works perfectly. That’s not ignoring the facts – that’s actually the core and deeper truth at the heart of the Universe – that things are set up to work for us rather than against us.

The Goal

The primary goal of the Innocent is to stay safe. Sometimes that means hiding from danger – or from any change that may eventually lead to risk, or feeling unsafe. It’s the primal need for all of us to be secure. But secure is dull and boring – secure doesn’t lead to adventure, or enlightenment, or fulfilment. Secure is stable, for sure – but only the risks associated with change will bring depth of character and true purpose. The Innocent will always seek to fit in, to avoid creating waves or standing out.

Consider Luke Skywalker in his dull yet safe life on Tattooine: everything is safe and secure, but does it actually mean anything? Or Frodo Baggins, living a life of simplicity and gaiety in the Shire, unaware that any darkness lay beyond the boundaries of his idyllic paradise.

Primal Fear

Of course, the main fear of the Innocent, as it is of the newborn, is being abandoned. Abandonment leads to change, to the need to stand on one’s own two feet. And the innocent will go to any lengths to avoid this – stepping into relationships to avoid being alone, sticking with a company for fear of what ‘going it alone’ might bring – avoiding change at all costs in order to seek safety and security – the bliss of consistency.

Response to the challenge

When danger appears, and the dragon rears its head, the Innocent can respond in only one of two ways. The first option is to bury his head in the sand and deny that a problem exists – if you can’t see it, it can’t hurt you. The second is to call for help – to look for some power beyond yourself to rescue you.

For some, that rescuer might be the government bailing us out of a deep and dark hole. For others, it might be a retreat to the safety of friends or family. Others seek their answers in spirituality or religion, looking to a deity to rescue them and make everything all right again.

A Heroic Task

Yet there is a task for the Innocent, something that only the pure of heart can achieve. The Innocent demonstrates that Paradise can be regained, that it is possible to walk through life in trust and honesty. The Innocent will seek the best in everyone and holds up a goal for others to reach – to cease their striving and struggling and relax, trusting that all will be well, or, as my Huna teacher says “Everything is Working Out Perfectly” (or, for short, EWOP).

The Gift

Despite the apparent weakness of the Innocent, that very innocence bears great gifts – gifts that, in our worldly wise cynicism we tend to overlook. The Innocent is, at heart, trusting, optimistic and loyal – thinking ill of no man, expecting the best at all times. Such is the power of trust and belief that the Innocent truly believes in the inherent ‘rightness’ of the world – and by holding on to that belief, actually makes it so. Such is the power of true innocence in the world.

The shadow Innocent

Of course, such naïvety has its weakness. Our hero can find herself shackled to irrational optimism, even in the face of obvious difficulty. Reliance on others for assistance can lead to putting off dealing with problems, relying on ‘it’ll be alright in the end’ or expecting that some knight in shining armour will rescue them – or that God will hear their prayers. It’s also easy for the Innocent to fall into dull conformity – the sense that it’s always been done this way… and that it’s dangerous to stand out or to make waves.

Levels of the Innocent

Although the Innocent is usually the starting place, we can often find ourselves called back here – whenever a desire for stability and safety overrides our desire for adventure and our call to purpose. This is what finds heroes in a cave, unwilling to step out and face the challenge again – this sense that once upon a time all was just darn peachy – or that, having set out on the adventure, things were much better back at home. The hobbits on their journey dream of breakfast – and second breakfast. Alice wishes she was safe on the riverbank and had never followed the rabbit.

Initially, the Innocent is unquestioning, unaware of danger and trusting of everyone, especially of authority. However, that innocence cannot last and disillusionment and disappointment set in as the world is not seen to be as perfect as expected, that authority figures have feet of clay and that truly we are responsible for our own happiness. However, the Innocent will retain faith in human nature and a belief that deep down inside all men are good. And that experience will allow us to grow in wisdom – retaining that innocence yet without naïvety or dependence on others.

The Innocent’s story

The archetypal story of the Innocent is to step from apparent paradise, peace, calm and tranquillity, where all is safe and secure into a world where those foundations are rocked. The Innocent retains faith that all is well, and that very faith sustains them, rebuilding a new paradise in the certainty that everything is as it should be.

Exercises and dreaming

Find yourself an icon of childhood – perhaps a well loved cuddly toy, or perhaps a place that you loved to visit. Or go and hug your mother or father – or even cuddle a baby. If you haven’t got access to the physical reality, then bring a memory of that to mind. How does that make you feel – relax into the sense of being safe, of total well being.

Consider your life at the moment. Look at the good things, and at the not so good stuff. Is it just maybe possible that everything is working out perfectly? Could it be that in the heart of any difficulties you might be facing are hidden the seeds of the answer?

Next time

Next week we’re going to look at what happens when we step beyond Innocence, and consider the Orphan – but for now, look at where the Innocent appears in your life, and where maybe recovering some of your true Innocence and faith might help you move forward.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 02

Stuck in the story – Walking with Heroes Part 4

mistakes

So welcome to week 4 of ‘Walking with Heroes’. I hope you’re seeing some of the parallels starting to emerge in your own life as well as starting to see the themes and stories that are woven into literature, into the movies and TV shows we watch, even into songs and into fairy tales, into books and comics and more.

Next time we’re going to start looking at the characters that make up these stories – the people that we can find on our journey through life – and the people that we are and the stories that we retell through our own lives. But for now… a little more on the story.

Now, you may well be thinking ‘I live a dull boring life in suburbia – all these stories of adventures and epic heroics are nothing to do with me’. I’m not so sure.

For some of us, we are already on that journey. We’ve recognised the call to do something great with our lives. Something, somewhere has called to us and we’ve answered. That might be a call to create – perhaps to build a business or an organisation. You will have been just going through life, going through the motions – when suddenly (or not so suddenly) an idea occurs to you and a vision begins to emerge. You might well have met someone wiser than us who can mentor us – or be thrilled by the success stories of others who have gone before us. You’re on the journey.

Perhaps yours is a great romantic adventure – the call is the call to love, to care for someone. That in itself is heroic. There will be someone that you respect who will offer you wisdom – or you will model your love after someone else. There will (you know there will) be trials and tests, hard times and difficulties. There will be friends and companions to support you. There will be a ‘dark night of the soul’ for you where you weep and despair. And you will emerge from the tough times with a new strength, a new capacity to care, a new determination. And there will be something that tries to drag you back to old fears just as you are stepping out of them.

Perhaps you will find your journey in parenthood. You find yourself thrust into a new and scary journey where everything is mysterious and difficult. There will be those around you who support you – and sometimes you will feel that the world (and your children) is set against you. Again, you emerge from the journey transformed – deeper, wiser, more caring, more powerful.

You might have a vision to do something of service to others: to start some crazy global initiative that will change the planet, or something local that will benefit the local community. That vision will take you through tough times when all seems dark. It will force you to confront your own weaknesses and the weaknesses of others. You will have to fight against unexpected obstacles. Yet you will give birth to something in all of that which makes a difference – which is a gift to you and to the world.

You might not yet be on the journey… yet perhaps there is something that calls to you, some change that you know you need to make, some great initiative that you find yourself returning to time and again. You see, I know that each one of us is called to be a hero, to achieve something amazing and wonderful in this life. That might be a huge initiative on the world’s stage, or it might be something smaller, something closer to home… but the seeds of greatness are in each one of us. That call may be loud and obvious, or it may be quiet and subtle.. yet it calls to each one of us, if we let it.

I know I’ve been on this journey several times – but perhaps the most recent for me was when I decided to leave my nice safe well paid job to create a business that served people rather than technology. The call for me came in several ways: from those around me, from those I respected – both international leaders and teachers and those closer to home. It was definitely an adventure that I stepped into and chose for myself.

I learned lots on that journey – through several mentors who pointed the way, and through friends that I met on the way.

The dragon I confronted was that of personal failure.. without going into it too deeply, the business didn’t work out as I wanted it to, largely because I was thinking too small, and I found myself confronted with deep feelings of inadequacy, a sense that I had been abandoned – by those around me, by those who had the opportunity to help me, and, in the end, by God. I definitely experienced that ‘dark night of the soul’ as I walked by the river trying to work out how to move forward.

Yet I did discover new meaning and new truth in all of that – the journey grew bigger as I took time out to travel, and that became the gift, the reward – yet I knew in all of that that I was bringing something out from that experience that would benefit others – allowing me to return to the ordinary world with a gift to give… which is why I am creating this programme and others to share what I’ve learned.

Getting stuck

Now, particularly when things go wrong, we can find ourselves stuck in our own story. Somewhere along the route, our experience has left us unable to move forward, for whatever reason – and I often see this with people who are stuck and unable to move on.

For example, they might be running a story of unrequited love – there is something tragically heroic about someone who loves and yet ultimately fails to find happiness – the stories of Romeo and Juliet, for example, or the plots of any one of a hundred romantic movies where the guy fails to get his girl…or the girl fails to get her guy. If we’re stuck in that story, we’ll find ourselves continually in relationships that don’t fulfill us, or in love affairs where the love isn’t returned – because to us, that story is heroic, and we keep retelling the story with ourselves as the main character.

Or maybe we’re stuck in a story of success against all the odds – where we keep fighting setback after difficulty after disaster in pursuit of our goals. Every time we clear one obstacle out of the way, another dragon rears its ugly head. We’re locked in the drama of the story, knowing that if we were actually successful, then all the drama would go away.

(In a later part of this series, I’m going to take another look at some of the stories that shape our lives… but before that we’re going to need to meet some of the characters that we’ll encounter on the journey)

‘But what do I do if I’m stuck in the story?’, you might well ask. ‘What is it that I can do to escape this story that keeps retelling itself?’ Well, the first thing to do is to recognise that it is only a story. The only reason it exists is because you keep retelling it. We’re so vulnerable to the things we tell ourselves..’I’m too old’, ‘I’m never going to meet anyone’, ‘every time I try something new I fail’, ‘I guess I’m just plain unlucky’, ‘I’ll never get out of debt’. We keep telling ourselves these things… and yet what if they weren’t true? What if they are just things we say to keep us in the drama of life?

The only time we have is right now. The only thing that we can affect is what’s happening right now. The past is a memory, and the future is just a possibility. Neither of those things actually have any meaning right now – unless we decide that they do. I used to have a real fear of speaking in public after a minister (who should have known better) stood and ranted at me after I had taken a service in his church. I could choose to believe his comments – or I could choose to move on.

In the same way, I found myself continually stepping back to a situation that hadn’t worked out… and so I wrote a new story. I created a whole new adventure for myself – I set it in a time of knights and princesses, and chose to create a story where I travelled the world (for sure) and found a new purpose and destiny. Writing that story broke me free from the old ‘stuck’ story that I was in the middle of. Try it – it might work really well for you. (It’s actually a really good visualisation tool anyway, even for those of us who aren’t ‘stuck’ – write a screenplay of your perfect day when you achieve a goal, or when you are living the life of your dreams. Write it in detail – what are you doing, who’s there with you, what’s life like, what are you eating or drinking, where are you… every single detail.) Creating such a strong image will do two things – it’ll create something that draws you to make that true, and at a metaphysical level it will start to attract the situations and resources that will make that dream real.

We really can just drop the story. Take the lesson, learn what needs to be learned, then (and it really is this simple) move on. The only thing that stops us is when we have something invested in a decision not to move on – when it actually serves us to stay stuck. Perhaps it feels safer to stay single rather than move into a new relationship with the risks that brings. Perhaps it feels safer to say ‘I could have been great’ rather than writing that story, or singing that song – rather than creating that business, or going on that trip round the world. When would now be a good time to decide to turn the page and write a new story? Because, and you can trust me on this… there is a story that needs you to write it. There is a story that will make your heart sing, that will thrill you, excite you that will make you say ‘that’s why I am alive’. If you step into it. That story will call to you. Receive it. Take hold of it. Own it. Because it’s the reason you are here.

In conclusion

Stories are all around us. We create them and weave them, and we’re influenced by them all the time. We can use them as frameworks to create our lives, to inspire us and lead us onward…but we should never let them ensnare us and hold us back…

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Aug 29

The journey revealed–Walking With Heroes Part 3

Explosion

Hi there! Last time we too k a look at the Hero’s Journey. There’s more to tell, so I’m going to use some movie examples to illustrate the journey – you might like to use your own movies, stories, TV programmes or fairytale, to see how the monomyth is present in different stories and legends.

So here goes…

Home ground – when we meet the hero it’s in the normal world. It might be remarkably dull and boring – or he might be getting along just fine, enjoying life and having fun, maybe even engaged in something significant. And yet the normality of his world is just a surface feature. Underneath the every day façade, a different and more magical world awaits – a world so radically different from that which our hero has experienced so far. When we discover Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, he’s on the dreary dull planet Tattooine, vapour farming with his uncle and aunt and cleaning droids. When we meet Frodo Baggins he’s at a party in the Shire, eating and drinking with his friends.

The call to adventure – something strange or unusual happens in our hero’s life. It may be that tragedy strikes – or the receipt of a strange and mysterious invitation. Perhaps some natural event changes the course of the day, or something seemingly insignificant causes the whole path of the future to shift. In ‘Sliding Doors’ a child gets in the way and causes Helen to miss her train, setting in place a whole series of different outcomes. In Star Wars Luke discovers a message from a mysterious stranger hidden in R2D2’s memory. Or it may be a realisation that there must be more to life that causes our hero to set off in search of fame and fortune, adventure and dreams.

Meeting the guide – at some point in the adventure a wiser mentor appears. Sometimes we don’t recognise the teacher at first, passing them off as irrelevant, out of touch or just plain dull. And yet something continues to attract us to that guide. Sometimes that’s a real person, and sometimes it’s an author who profoundly influences our understanding of the world. Luke, of course, met Obi Wan Kenobi. Arthur was brought face to face with the mysterious Merlin, while Frodo developed a new understanding of his long time friend Gandalf.

Refusal of the call – oftentimes we will turn away from the call when we hear it, stepping back into the world of normality, seeking to cling on to the safe, to the familiar. And yet the call will continue, insistent, pressing. Ignore it too long, perhaps, and it will fade, become familiar. Yet it will never truly be forgotten. Luke chooses to return to his uncle’s farm, convinced that ‘old Ben’ is simply crazy.

At this point we begin to pass from the known world into the unknown, stepping over (or being dragged through) the threshold of adventure. From here on in all bets are off, as we see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Confronting the dragon – at some point we meet a danger to our lives or our sanity – the dragon that guards the mysterious new realm. We can choose to flee back to the safety of our quiet little world, or we can plunge on into the unknown. Often times the dragon forces us to step into the mystical – there is no way back into the safe and secure as bridges are burned. For Luke, it’s the moment when the Imperial forces kill the only family he knows, destroying his livelihood and provoking him to seek justice.

Tests, trials and allies – the true story begins in earnest. Our hero will be tested and learn new skills, drawing on hidden resources within. There will be challenges that will forge a new inner strength and tough resolve. In the end, this is one reason for the journey – to create change in our lives. Whether that’s increasing our magical power and connection to the power that lies within, as in Luke’s case, or understanding our true determination to succeed against the odds, as Frodo found – or increasing our ability to love, whether romantically or in dedication to humanity. As we go we draw helpers to ourselves – some we recognise as true companions, while others rub us up the wrong way. Luke, of course, finds himself in a love-hate friendship with Han Solo and the wild, untameable Chewbacca. Frodo learns who his real friends are with his companion hobbits, and an unlikely collection of men, elves and dwarves – and the one who will threaten him yet ultimately save him, Gollum.

Approaching the cave – often with fear and caution, but sometimes just rushing in, our hero steps into the inner cave, the place where the supreme ordeal must be faced. This may (in myth) be the descent into hell – for Luke it is walking into the bowels of the death star. Frodo, of course, must face Mordor itself – and a series of similar challenges along the way, including the false sanctuary under Mount Moria.

The dark night of the soul – each and every hero must face this moment – the time they feel they cannot go on. When hope has been sucked out of them, and it seems that their life has become one of failure. Drawn into this mysterious new world, it seems that whichever way they turn, disaster follows. At this point the hero faces the supreme ordeal – and often times finds that the enemy they face is themselves. Luke had to face the truth that his greatest enemy was his father – and watching his mentor die at the hands of Darth Vader. Frodo continually tempted to use the power of the ring to escape – and of course facing the loss of Gandalf to the Balrog fire demon.

Seizing the treasure – discovering the reward – as the hero triumphs over ultimate evil, or over his own weaknesses and fears, he discovers a great gift – whether that be Arthur discovering Excalibur, or Frodo and friends receiving the gifts of the elves. The reward may be a new understanding that needs to be taken back to the world. Or it may be the discovery of great love, in the case of Sleeping Beauty, or Luke rescuing Leia.

The return – flushed with success, our hero begins the journey back with his prize. Yet often the challenge is not over. Our hero may elect to remain within the other world, reluctant to return to dreary normality. Or if he does make his way back, further trouble awaits. Here the great pursuit scenes follow, as the dragon seeks to regain its mastery. Luke and Han find themselves pursued by the Empire. Frodo struggles with the despair of crossing the plains toward Mordor. We find ourselves trapped within the story, unable to speak of it clearly in the world we are familiar with.

Resurrection and rebirth – emerging finally from the rigours of the journey, our hero steps back into the known world. Yet even so, this world is not as it was before. The adventures have created a new understanding – of the nature of reality, or of inner strength and gift. The companions met along the way create a new wider life, a web of friendship that opens up new worlds. The gift won at such great cost helps transform the world as we know it. For Frodo, of course, peace is restored and the shadow that has hung over Middle Earth is dispelled. Luke discovers new worlds and a family that he didn’t know – hidden in the story in the form of one of his closest companions. Our hero returns altered from the experience – in many stories our hero dies (or appears to) before resurrection – ET on the operating table, Luke in the trash compactor.

Return – for some there are fêtes and parties to celebrate victory. The father of the prodigal son throws a feast. The Republic celebrate Luke’s destruction of the Death Star. The hobbits of the Shire get merrily drunk. The prince marries his princess. Yet the hero is changed by his adventure and nothing will ever be the same again. For many that will be the call to a new adventure, for others it will be the application of new wisdom applied to ruling the land.

Reflection – no true hero’s story is told without discovering inner truth. Luke’s world is changed by his discovery of ‘The Force’ – the magical and miraculous truth at the heart of the universe. Arthur rules in wisdom and justice having learned the secrets of power from Merlin. And there is a sense that all is well in the world – at least for the moment – as Luke is surrounded by the wraiths of his mentors, Yoda and Obi-Wan… and of his father.

image

Anticlockwise from the top!

In brief

Although it may take many forms, the mythical path of the hero’s journey is the core, not only of the lasting stories of our time, but also of our own lives. Next time, we’re going to take a look at how that story plays out in our own lives. But for now, in six sentences, the story…

The hero is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE and MEETS HIS GUIDE. He is RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD into the UNKNOWN WORLD where he will encounter TESTS and TRIALS, meeting new COMPANIONS and ENEMIES. He reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL, the DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. He SEIZES THE TREASURE and is pursued by the forces of darkness on the ROAD BACK to his world. He is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience. He RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure or GIFT to benefit his world.

It’s a fabulous journey . .

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Aug 22

Discovering the Hero’s Journey–Walking with Heroes Part 2

 

adventures

Hello again, and welcome to the second part of our adventure ‘Walking with Heroes’. This time we’re going to look at the Hero’s Journey – the timeless saga that underpins the great stories told around the world – and is also the heart of my story – and of yours, too.

The journey

When we look deeply into the structure of the great sagas, whether they be ancient stories like those of Jason and the Argonaut, or more up to date tales like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter we find a pattern. That pattern’s there not just because it’s good story telling – but because that’s the pattern of the story of our own lives, woven deep into the warp and woof of our own journey, our own saga.

The concept of the Hero’s Journey was identified by mythologist and author Joseph Campbell – he referred to it as the ‘monomyth’ and outlined it in his book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’. Campbell believed that the monomyth was the great underlying spiritual story of mankind, and that’s why we find so many echoes of it in storytelling around the world. The story then embodies what’s at the core of our lives… that this is, in essence, a spiritual journey.

When we start to realise that our lives are not just aimless wanderings from birth to death, through highs and lows, peaks and troughs, through the ordinary and mundane to the sublime and wonderful – when we realise that each one of us is part of a bigger story, the story told from before time – then suddenly each one of us can know that we are living a life of significance, that our individual contribution is important. We are not here by chance – we are here because we matter, and because our lives matter.

The meaning of myth

In Campbell’s work, story and mythology have four functions:

To awaken a sense of awe before the mystery of being – because deep truth cannot be explained in words or images, story that awakens the soul allows us to connect to the deeper hidden mysteries.

To explain the shape of the universe – to find a way to explain the infinitely complex in patterns and in analogies that can be grasped by humanity, and to reconcile the scientific with the spiritual.

To validate the existing social order – to preserve the constructs of society and the values and morals of civilisation.

To guide the individual through the stages of life – to provide a framework for each of us to use as we step through our own individual journeys.

I’m going to focus on this last role, because it helps us to understand our lives, creating a cosmic context for our experience, making sense of what may feel like a random and chaotic journey.

Each of us will have had a moment when we identified with a character in a story. That might be with the despair of Cinderella when she is left behind, unable to join in the merriment and excitement at the ball – until, that is, until magic arrives in the shape of the fairy godmother and transforms bleak despair into hope and joy. That might be with the youthful Luke Skywalker, left alone on the desert world of Tattooine – until, that is, a chance encounter with a mysterious old man leads him into an adventure that spans the galaxy.

That identification is no coincidence. The echo of the story calls to each one of us, calling us to believe in something greater, something that will give our life meaning. We may believe that we are stuck somewhere in our story – but the truth is that we are not – that we can choose to write our own ending and create life as we want it to be. We are both the hero and the storyteller – the protagonist and the voiceover, and we can choose our own adventure and our own storyline.

In the movies

In the mid 1980s Chris Vogler, a story consultant for Disney, became fascinated by the concepts of the hero’s journey, particularly as he saw the themes of the story laid out in the movie ‘Star Wars’. He wrote a seven page memo to the Disney executives explaining how he saw the mythic themes presented in the Star Wars storyline. Yet this mythic framework echoes back many long years – way back to before Hollywood, before Tolstoy, Dickens, Homer, before the authors of the Bible – way back to when stories were told around the camp fires by the wise men of the village, where stories became the way that culture and tradition was passed down from one generation to another – but also where hope, and meaning, values and ambition were woven into something much richer.

I can remember watching the ground breaking movie ‘The Matrix’ in an American cinema. I had no idea of the storyline or the concept, and yet suddenly my understanding of the world was turned upside down as the screenwriters forced me to question the very nature of reality. Many of those concepts are now embedded into our understanding of how truly ‘real’ this world is, and how much of it is an illusion.

Stages of the Journey

So, what is the journey? Well, it would seem unfair to leave you on tenterhooks waiting to discover the nature of this mythic story – waiting to discover the patterns and shadows that shape our lives. It would seem cruel to leave you waiting for the nature of the greatest story of our lives to be laid out in front of us.

And yet, that’s the story teller’s secret – to leave his audience waiting for the next chapter to unfold.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org