room on the edge

inspiration (+ a push)

A True Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell is one of the most unique and inspiring people I’ve ever come across. I first became aware of his work on mythology back in 1993 when I was studying art and anthropology at the University of Eastern New Mexico (part of a student exchange program from my BA course here in the UK).

In my mind, he was a true adventurer – he travelled the world throughout his life, searching for stories – 1000s of stories. Stories from different cultures – myths, fables, legends – the stuff that fuels bedtime stories the world over. These stories we often carry with us our whole lives – they literally shape the way we lead them.

Despite the apparent differences between the cultures he studied, Joe Campbell payed lots of attention to their similarities, which all came out in the stories they told. He wrote many books recording and detailing his finds, including “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”, which detailed The One Great Story which he believed humans the world over really related to – The Hero’s Journey.

myth_quest_modelIt’s a fascinating journey, present in myths the world over. This story has been told and retold in countless variations – Star Wars is a classic example (in fact, the plot was based on Joe’s research and George Lucas became a close friend of Campbell’s). In the 1980s, in the last two years before Campbell’s death, Bill Moyers interviewed him about how mythology was relevant to our lives in today’s society. These interviews (incidentally filmed at Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch) became a 6-part series for TV called “The Power of Myth”. There was also a PBS (USA) series based on Campbell’s lecture tours called “Mythos”, which is as relevant today as it was when it was shot nearly 30 years ago.

So, it’s great that there’s a contemporary take on Campbell’s life and work – with commentaries by some amazing leaders in their field who’ve been impacted themselves by Joseph Campbell – Deepak Chopra, Tony Hawk and Brian Johnson to name a few. I hope this new movie inspires a whole new generation of people to delve deeper into his work – for sure there’ll be future heroes among them.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell


1 Comment

  1. “…if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” – Joseph Campbell

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