The monomyth, also known as the Hero’s journey, is a fascinating concept in narratology popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
This pattern can be found in most tales depicting the adventures of a hero. Not only in tales, but also in most religions. All prophets went through a similar journey.
Carl Jung observes that symbols from the collective imaginary take a big part in the development of our subconsciousness. Heroism is no different. It is deeply ingrained in our psyche.
Now, an interesting thing to observe is that this Hero’s journey is still widely used in popular narratives. For example, advertisement exulting the inner hero of the consumer, or the origin stories of famous entrepreneurs.
We all aspire to be heroes. ”We can be heroes, just for one day,” says Bowie. Yet, few are brave enough to set out on a quest for self-realization.
He is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if he once saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain.”
– Carl Jung
Successful people are the ones who attained the treasure. This prize can take any shape, but it is up to us to find it. To do so, we have to go through every stage of this ultimate pursuit of self-discovery.
Look for the opportunities. Dive in them. Go through every trial and tribulation with faith in oneself and others. Die. Resurrect. Reinvent yourself. Return. Share your treasure.
Only by obtaining this new-found freedom can you face death with serenity.
I believe however that the Hero’s journey is not a one-time process, but an iterative one.