On Loss and Other Difficulties

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  We live in a culture obsessed with gain. We are brought up to achieve our goals, starting with potty training and learning to walk. Gaining a new skill is rewarded with exuberant approval. Soon the gain becomes the new norm, and we find ourselves striving for the next gain. We want to be better than yesterday, wiser than before, …

Entering the Void

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  When I entered ‘the void’ many years ago I thought I was going to die. I was in a very dysfunctional relationship at the time. The man I was with suffered from suicidal depression, and I’d assumed I could rescue him from himself. He kept making up stories about what was happening to him. He would believe his own …

Tests and Trials

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  Many years ago, while travelling with a friend and my 4 year old son in Tunisia, we were invited for dinner in a tent by a small group of fishermen. They were very friendly, we were tired and hungry, we appreciated the hospitality and generous invitation. It was a working tent near a small harbour, and the men were …

Departure

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  Departure, at last. The journey can begin. In a world of instant gratification we have become increasingly used to rushing straight to our goals. Our heroism is reduced to an act of will. We expect to bring home the booty via a path with a proven track record. A sprinkling of adrenaline is added to give a sense of …

Preparing for the Journey

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  Preparing for the Heroic Journey is notoriously difficult because you are per definition venturing into the unknown. How can we prepare for something we don’t know? On the other hand, we may safely assume that when the Call to Adventure lands in our imaginary inbox, everything that has happened before in life has prepared us for precisely this moment. …

Resistance to Leaving

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  In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey the third stage is called Refusal of the Call. Campbell’s Refusal of the Call begins as follows, “Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered; for it is always possible to turn the ear to other interests.” In stories representing …

The Call to Adventure

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  The first move towards the Heroic Journey happens when the main protagonist of the story receives a Call to Adventure. In the narrative of mythology the sequence varies dependent on the gender of the main character. Even the starting conditions are different. The heroine’s Ordinary World is often the illusion of a perfect world, while the hero’s journey usually …

The Ordinary World

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  I have lived in various countries from an early age. What is regarded as ‘ordinary’ in one culture can be very strange or ‘extraordinary’ in another. Ordinary is what seems mundane, what is common, and what happens on a regular basis. The Ordinary World is what we are used to. Within each country there are sub-cultures, and each sub-culture …

Resolution, an Introduction to the Heroic Journey

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  A couple of months ago, when thinking about a title for the first article of the New Year, Resolution seemed an obvious choice. It made me realise that all of my ‘resolutions’ for 2014 had come to fruition. I was instantly filled with gratitude. When we resolve to reach a goal, the achievement is not entirely up to us. …