Mapping Out Your Hero’s Journey

There are 12 chapters in the Hero’s Journey structure:

  1. Let’s start with the beginning of your story. I want you to start thinking about what life was like before a major life event. This is the first step in the Hero’s Journey, The Ordinary World, what life looked like before that happened.
  2. Next, I want you to picture if there was a moment where you felt an agitation, a spark lit that ignited your interest to seek a different path. This is your Call to Adventure.
  3. Now I want you to think if there was any hesitation or resistance on your part for embarking on that journey towards change. This is your Refusal of the Call.
  4. The last part of the setup of your story comes next. Was there any mentor, manager, guide that helped and supported you on the start of your Hero’s Journey? This is your Meeting the Mentor.
  5. In he fifth section, we begin the transition from where we were to where we’re going. What event or experience captures the in-between? This is your Crossing of the Threshold.
  6. Next, we begin the process of things getting in our way, and this step is to do with people. So who were the people in your life, network, or career that proved to be helpful or unhelpful? These are your Test, Allies, and Enemies.
  7. Now we head further in, this time going deep within ourselves and looking for the answers. This part looks a lot like introspection. This is your Approach to the Inmost Cave.
  8. And before we can come out on the other side, there is one final challenge, the greatest challenge of all. The major life event that shakes things up, almost testing whether you’re ready to receive the reward. This is The Ordeal.
  9. After the hardship comes success, though. A goal or something you’ve been trying to achieve finally comes to fruition. This is The Reward.
  10. But despite coming out the other side, there are still a few more steps to go in the Hero’s Journey. Healing needs to take place, and we walk ourselves back home. This is The Road Back.
  11. Once we are in steady footing, though, we are ready to rise from the ashes and reclaim our power. This is The Resurrection.
  12. And finally, we come back from a life-changing journey that has changed us for the better. We are no longer who we were when we started, and we have a story and lessons to share. This is The Return with the Elixir.

There you have it. The 12 chapters in the Hero’s Journey. These were described here by Alexandra Galviz (LinkedIn Top Voice, Keynote Speaker, Consultant) but the concept was popularised long ago by Joseph Campbell. And even then, he borrowed the idea from someone else (who probably nicked if from some classical Greek dude).

I’m going to have a go at mapping stories out for some of the major events in my life. They seem to occur every seven years, with the exception of 2006 in which nothing seemed to happen to me. I’ll have to delve into that year and see what’s going on. Maybe that’s a good place to start. Anyway, watch this space because I’m going to be telling you some stories!

Bioaccelerator

I used to know this kid who was a bioaccelerator. He was called Kinji and he had something about him that sped up the development of biota. Just by being around them, Kinji made plants grow taller, fruit ripen more quickly and animals develop faster. And yes, I know what you’re thinking and it’s true: he had the same effect on humans too, which was why my body is stuck in this stasis field. And now I suppose you want me to tell you about it. Well, let’s see how we get on and how much time we have.

Do you remember the triffids? No? Well, they were like zombies in plant form. The seeds came from space and they pretty much took over the world back then. Kinji survived it along with a few others, including me. But after the triffids died we found that he was changed. It happened on the last day when one of them stung him. It was like getting a bullet in the second before peace broke out. Hold on; I’ll get him to tell you about it.

“Kinji, come back from the dead and speak.”

“Do you have to do that?”

“What!”

“Aw, spare me that innocent child act. You know what I mean; that whole let’s pretend Kinji died and we’re bringing him back from the dead thing.”

If you could see me then you’d see a smile on my face. You see, we’re all dead to the world. All of us are …

“Rob. Stop it.”

“Again, what, Kinji!”

He sighs and comms: “Just tell them the truth, Rob. Tell them how we’re neither dead nor alive but that we’re living inside a giant computer.”

I laugh in his pseudo-face. “You have a broad definition of living and I have a narrow one. Being inside a computer is not living. It’s just another form of soul-absence. In other words, it’s death.”

“Yeah, but my body is still …”

“You haven’t seen your body in more than a decade and so you have no idea whether it still contains what you so touchingly call a soul. Let it go, Kinji; you’re dead and the sooner you can face that, the sooner we’ll be able to …” I stop speaking as an alarm sounds. It can only mean one thing: the plants are approaching critical mass again. Time to take up the good fight again.

We had to put up lasers to stop them in the end. Not beams. They were more like sheets. The growing tips would sizzle against them like rain on a hot frying pan. The lasers would prune the ends, but then the plants would just keep on forming more tips a little to the side. Fascinating to watch from inside the field, just so long as you didn’t get too close. Laser sheets don’t bother about which side you come at them from. They’ll slice off both fingers and buds as quick as splat. I mostly don’t go out of the computer. Kinji never does. On occasions like this, I have to.

“Gotta go, Kinji. Keep cool.”

“Aw, just kill me.”

I’m genuinely shocked and I show this by virtually dropping my jaw open and widening my eyes a little. Actually, come to think of it, I’m a little scared too. I move my pseudo-hand towards Kinji and say “are you sure?”

“Yes.” He sighs. “I think that we both know that without me they’d be no problem here. You’d be able to move back into your body for longer than an hour a week and do the stuff you miss. And I’d be able to, you know, move on. It’ll be the best thing for both of us.”

“Okay. I’ll go to your support pod now and …”

“Whoa! Now?”

“Well, yes. It’d save so much time and effort. I wouldn’t have to clear the plants because they would stop growing, I wouldn’t have to keep my body in a stasis-field to stop it from growing and I would still be able to visit you every now and again in … this!”

“I was thinking that maybe we could have some kind of ceremony.” His voice had a modulated form of panic in its tones. “You know, say a prayer or something, like they used to do in the temples.”

“Well, I can say a few words if you like. I still know one or two sutras by heart I think. And if not, there’s bound to be something in the book.”

Kinji sighs.

I say “c’mon, pretty boy, make up your mind. It’s either cut the plants back or kill you; which is it to be?”

“Death before dishonour.”

“That makes no sense whatsoever, Kinji.”

“Kill me, Rob.”

“Okay, let me just … umph, sum-of-a-beach, I can’t … urgh … there, that’s got it.”

It takes me a minute to wake, but the drugs are good and they bring me back to brightness quickly. Gosh but it stinks here. I disconnect, unstrap, sit and swing my legs over the edge of the shallow container.

“Lights up by 50 per cent.”

The dim room brightens and I see your body in the next container. You’re plugged in and immobile and so all that I need to do is reach out my hand and flick a switch. I reach out and touch the console.

“Boundless and free is the sky of Samadhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes;
This very place is the Lotus Land;
This very body, the Buddha.”

Feeling quite proud that I remembered the sutra I flick the switch and watch as the lights on his console flicker, dim and go out. His breathing stops and, if he has any kind of a soul, it exits stage left.

“You still there, Kinji?”

The speakers buzz briefly and his voice, familiar as old wood, rings out. “Yeah, I’m here. Thanks for the words.”

“See, told you that you were dead.”

He laughs and tells me that I’m a jerk.

So, yeah, like I said: I used to know this kid who was a bioaccelerator. He was called Kinji. Death called and left him behind to keep me company.

There’s still life here now, but not too much of it. Not like before. I’ll take the laser fields down tomorrow and go for a walk. Now that it’s safe, it’ll be nice to stretch my legs and see who else is about.

Overheard on a Bus

People talk about drama and crisis but …

Wha? Wait. Hol’ up; people talk about wha? Me ain’ never heard no-one speaking of dem tings. Them does speak about all kinda ting, but drama and crisis? Heck, no!

Okay, maybe I should rephrase. Newspapers print stories that contain a lot of drama and crisis. How’s that for you?

Well, yes. Yes, I suppose dem does do dat. I does read about plenty crisis in de newspaper about de events in de middle east and about de pandemic an all of dat. So, yes. And I suppose dem does do make a drama out of all a dat so that dem can make dem little money ‘n’ ting.

Well, I’m glad you agree. May I go on?

You surely should for it is getting rather late in de day for me and I must go to bed soon. Early to bed and early to rise and all a dat, y’know?

I do.

Well, get on den.

Ahem. Newspapers print stories that contain a lot of drama and crisis but, to be honest …

Honest?

Yes.

You’re telling me dat you is honest?

Well, not exactly.

But I done hear it from your own sweet lips. To be honest, you said. Does that mean that you is lying all de other time you is speaking?

Well, that’s rather a pedantic way of …

Oh, I is pedantic now is I? Well, tell me something – was you just now being honest when you did call me pedantic or was you just being a cold and cheeky liar to me face!

Oh, for goodness sake, it was just a figure of speech!

Well, so I is a badness now! As well as being pedantic and troublesome …

Ah, wait – I never said that you were troublesome.

I does see it on your face. The way you is twisting it up and is going a kind of puce colour is telling me all that I does need to know. Methink you is perhaps have a devil inside you and it is eating its way out like de alien in dat alien movie what was called … de name is eluding me right now but I is sure that it has an alien ting in it.

Alien.

Yes, dat is what I say – an alien.

No, the movie is called Alien. The main actor was Sigourney Weaver.

Yes, well, okay. Tanks for helping me out dere, man. I was struggling a little and I don’t mind admitting dat you did save my bacon dere.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, what was dat you was saying before de alien started to eat out of you face?

Oh, I’m sure it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

No, no – if you was telling it to me then I’m sure it was impotent. Say, say.

I was saying that all the drama and crisis in the news is a bit of a non-event.

And dat is it?

Well … erm … yes.

Well, for goodness sake, man, why didn’t you just say dat den!

Gregory

The first of May is a special day for Gregory because it’s his nine-hundredth birthday. Those who lived in Biblical times lived to be almost one-thousand, but this isn’t then. Gregory is an ant.

I know, I know, why should an ant have a birthday? Well, ant’s are born and it happens on a particular day and they celebrate when they’ve been genetically modified to do so. Jospeth did a bit of tinkering with Gregory’s DNA and so, there you go: he’s celebrating his nine-hundredth. Yay!

If I was you, I’d be asking how Jospeth got to be old enough to know the results of his genetic tinkering. The simple answer is that he didn’t. He just accelerated Gregory’s timeline so that he lived nine hundred years in about the same number of seconds. All this wonder in the interests of science.

I stepped on Gregory midway through his birthday party. I didn’t mean to but I am quite clumsy like that and shouldn’t really be allowed in laboratories. In fact, no dog should be allowed to be in a place like this, even if they are one of those special dogs that help blind folk to get around like I am. Hello, my name’s Alblethorpe. Yes, I know that’s a strange name.

Gregory survived being stood on. Ants are strong and you’ve got to admire a creature that can survive being stood on, especially one that’s a drunk as Gregory is. Then again, we dogs have soft pads under our feet, and as well as that I’ve heard that humans are better at falling downstairs without breaking their limbs when they’re drunk and so you’ve got to expect ants to get away with stuff too.

Listen, before you get any strange ideas in your head about whose dog I am then I’d better tell you that I’m not an owned dog. Slavery went out of fashion a long time before I came along. No, I’m actually Gregory’s friend. Not a very good friend I’ll grant you, but a friend all the same. The fact that he’s blind is nothing to do with me being a blind folk helper.

Click-clack-click-clack go my claws on the hard floor of the laboratory. Pid-pad-pid-pad-pid-pad go Gregory’s pretarsal adhesive pads as he tries to stumble away from the random click-clacking of my paws. It’s been quite a night. I’ve had a few units of alcohol too as well as a line of coke. If only Jospeth wasn’t due to go to sleep in a few minutes I could tell you more about this party, but he’s tired after a long day in the laboratory.

You’ll never hear of any of us again so I’ll say ‘bye’ from all of us now. Bye.

Obstacles to Turning the Other Cheek

Of course, he knew, in the deep recesses of the back of his mind, what the problem was: she thought he was maliciously trying to hurt her. But why he didn’t weave that fact into his grand narrative of love, redemption and self-discovery is something he was slow to bring to the front of his understanding. But he got there in the end, and it might just be the thing that saves his marriage. But let’s see. All that stuff is in the future yet.

Anyway – ego is the biggest obstacle to turning the other cheek. Why? I don’t know. But it’s what she told me as she passed my bed and so it must be true. I’d ask him, but he looks busy so let’s not disturb him right now. Maybe we’ll be able to ask him later.

When the moon got colonised, finally, by aliens, we turned the other cheek. It was easy to do that because they’d destroyed all our missiles and rocket ships, even the ones that Elon Musk hid in tunnels made by his Boring Company. They even winkled out all the fireworks stored in biscuit tins up and down the length of the reformed Euraustrokio, which seemed a little unnecessary, especially to all the kids whose New year celebrations were cut short by that act of pin-point quantum disintegration. The point being, though, that it was easy to turn the other cheek because we had absolutely no choice but to do so due to our complete inability to do anything else.

But if we had (or have) the choice – either as individuals or as a species – we should still choose to grin and bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune inflicted on us, whether or not they are aimed in our direction or not, for the simple reason that it is character-forming.

Of course, if those bolts and bombs hit us by accident then it’s easier to shrug them off, but if they were deliberately lobbed at us, then it’s more problematic – even if we just think that they were slung at us deliberately (or maliciously). Still, the point stands: it makes you a more psychologically resilient person if you choose to be happy if (or when) someone smacks you round the chops with a wet fish.

Someone told me that people who hurt others are operating from a low nature, but I’m not so sure about that. People are complicated things and what seems to be ‘low nature’ to one person is just ‘the way they’ve always been’ to another. I mean, take a simple example: singing in the shower. To one person this might be a very annoying thing, especially if it’s early in the morning and they went to bed late at night. But to the person tra-la-laaing away whilst scrubbing their back, this could be the most natural expression of the joy in their nature that they know. You see how difficult it is to say that this comes from a low nature?

She told him not to correct her. He told her that if he corrected her it was because she was wrong and that she should bear it. She was afraid that if she bore it then she would get a whole heap of other stuff deliberately heaped on her head so she told him, in no uncertain terms, where to shove his idea of ‘bearing it’. He then told her the thing that he should have told her right at the beginning; that she was the love of his life, the only person he’d ever wanted to marry and that he had no intention of deliberately hurting her. She realised that he was not malicious and decided to give him another chance. My crystal ball says that if he gets his sh..tuff in order then he’s got a chance of not losing her.

By the way, dude – what’s the biggest obstacle to turning the other cheek?

Erm … dunno. An addiction to chocolate?

Hmm.

Meanwhile, back on the moon, the aliens are planning to heap a whole load of indignity on the collective heads of humankind. But that’s another story, and it’s a long way off yet, so don’t worry about it (too much).

Cat Playing with a Snake’s Tail

When my oldest sister and I were kids my dad sometimes used to bring a bag of sweets home and, in the evening, as we were all sat down in front of the fire watching telly or something, he would, every now and again, reach into the bag, take out individually wrapped sweets and toss them, one by one, to my mum, my sister and me; and then he would take one for himself.

I remember this one time he brought home a bag of toffees and I was proper looking forward to the evening because I liked toffees a lot. When the time came, he walked into the living room with these toffees, sat down and put those sweet, delicious treats on the arm of the chair. I don’t think, at this point, I was watching telly at all – I just had my eyes fixed on this white paper bag of toffees.

My dad settled back into the chair and became, to all intents and purposes, engrossed in the television programme but, every now and again, he would look up and smile at me – a small child sitting and drooling on the carpet opposite him.

Finally, a whole lifetime later, he roused himself and rustled his fingers into the bag and pulled out a liquorice toffee – my very, very favourite! My entire face lit up and my eyes opened so that they looked like shiny little saucers. He held up the sweetie, looked into my eyes, smiled and then slowly tossed it across the room so that it landed a couple of inches short of my lap.

A smile painted itself across my face like an inverted rainbow as I reached down to snatch my prize. My little fingers flashed out to encage the toffee even before it had stopped bouncing gently on the carpet. The drool-ducts in my mouth went into overdrive as my fingers closed on … air!

My glee instantly turned to puzzlement, indignation and incredulation as I watched the sweetie fly back through the air towards my dad’s waiting hand and then, too late, I noticed the piece of cotton thread tied to one end of the toffee-wrapper and, a moment later the gleeful grins on my dad and mum’s faces. Oh, what a thing to do to a small child!

It wasn’t long, though, before their fun was over and the toffee was thrown back to me, this time without the cotton thread. I then unwrapped it and stuffed it into my mouth without ceremony, the drama of a moment ago forgotten in the sweet rush of sugar across my tongue.

But I never really forgot, and when I saw this picture of a snake teasing an innocent kitten in Ebar’s blog post, it brought that memory flooding back.

Panto Night – Thursday 16th Dec 2021

There’s no Topical Quiz today because it’s Panto Night (6pm BST) on 5 Towns Radio!

I’m going to be reading my very own panto live in the air tonight. This will be a proud and significant moment for all of mankind so don’t you dare muss it!

The panto is called Snow White and the Kidnapping of Santa and you can listen to it (and follow along by reading the script on the above link) on the 5 Towns Radio website. Or you can download the app from Google or Apple.

Don’t bother looking behind you because it’s not there. It right here! Right in front of your very nose. 🎅👸👻

Lilias

This is the story of Lilias but, unusually, she says that she doesn’t want to be involved in it so we’re going to have to set her aside from now. She’s sat on the sofa there at the back of this hall, smiling at me, but it’s the kind of smile that hides a sulk. Nonetheless, because this is a tale rooted deep in history and has a cast of billions, not to mention a lot of stumbling around, I’m sure we’ll cope, for now, without Lilias. We’ll leave her on the sofa with her sulky smile and turn our attention to Colin who’s at the front of the hall.

Colin’s on a stage sitting on a chair that’s proving to be a little too comfortable for him. His eyelids are flickering like he’s having some kind of a seizure, which would be comical except that forty-six people are staring at his face. They’re all supposed to be, like Colin, remembering God, but how many of them are actually doing so and how many are pretending is something we won’t know for sure until the results are posted. Which will be sooner than you think.

Let’s put a pin on the map and say that the world, as we know it, will end in 57 minutes and all the fly-blown nastiness that constitutes the ass-end of this world will undergo a metaphysical transformation that will result in several billion people being forcibly ejected from their corporeal vehicles. That’s going to leave just three-hundred thousand people looking for a shovel or two, several bio-degradable, sealable bags and a piece of ground in which to dig a fair quantity of corpse-sized holes. If not, there’s going to be a whole heap of fly-blown nastiness sitting around stinking up the place.

Anyhow, just about a minute before all that happens, there’s going to be a noticeboard on which everyone’s going to be listed, number wise according to how much effort they put into their God-bothering. Colin’s going to be at number 547,382.

This is how it begins:

In about a minute from now, a donkey’s going to walk into the hall where’s Colin’s eyes are flickering, and it will announce the end of the world. In actual fact, this isn’t quite true because no donkey will be involved in this scene. Instead, we are all going to have a collective vision. And when I say we, I mean you, me, Colin and Lilias and the rest of the audience. You’re on row three, third from the centre aisle on the right as you look at the stage and I’m on the back row on the far right, next to the window. We’ve already established where Lilias and Colin are.

Here, that is to say, the world is a place that’s calling out for a vision of a donkey. And sure, I know what you’re saying in your head as you hear this news: uh-uh, not me. There ain’t no donkey in my vision of the end of the world. And sure, you might well be right in your assertion (geddit? ASS-ertion?) but, as you might have heard, God works in a mysterious way. That’s to say that William Cowper said it in one of his pomes and we all agreed with him. So, yeah, if God gives us a donkey, who are we to say nay? I mean, if God’s got a sense of humour then God’s got a sense of humour and that’s that.

So, a donkey walks into a hall and says: it’s the end of the world, folks, form an orderly queue at the back of the hall for a little something to sweeten your tongue and then go out there and tell all your friends that those guys with boards proclaiming that The End is Nigh were spot on and it’s now.

Of course, no one moves a muscle apart from Colin, who sits up a little straighter in his comfy chair, and Lilias, who’s got a bit of a sweet tongue and so heads on over to get her little mouth-sweetener.

A minute later, God gets a bit tetchy. Having announced the news to all his faithful en-masse, which includes not just this hall, but several thousand other locations dotted around the globe, in the time-honoured tradition, vis-a-vis a vision, He decides that he needs to be more direct about this. Now, he’s not really been partial to fire, plague, war or flood since the first testament days and so he decides to be a little more laidback about his methodology today. He sends another vision.

This one is a little more direct. It features a concentrated minute of blazing horror that constituted the state of the world as it is now and seared the inner eyeballs of all who witnessed it but resulted in no real lasting harm, then another minute of concentrated sweetness in the form of a nice looking scene where people were dancing, animals were cavorting and plants were preparing their various fruits for lunch. God then, in a way that astounded and inspired the various psychologists, psychotherapists and other counsellors in the audience, causally linked one scene to the other with a delectable smorgasbord of elemental instructions revolving around adherence to the triple-pillared schedule of a good, solid haptonomic link with God, a manifestation of that link of all levels of being and the consequential exemplification of these in terms of the communication of the foregoing with all who had ears to hear, these three being the basis of what God liked to call the good stuff.

God expects a little more as a result of this latest vision. He reckons that three minutes of revelation would be enough for anyone to get the message. He reckons wrong.

You yourself are only in this hall because you saw a poster saying ‘free yoga’ in the local library. You’d always wanted to try yoga because you’d heard it was a good way to keep fit and the fact that you had several pairs of perfectly good jeans in your drawer that would no longer fit could only add added impetus to this desire. So when the donkey came in closely followed by what you could only assume was a bad reaction to the curry you had last night followed by all the other stuff, you were ever so slightly puzzled and not a little keen for the exercise schedule to begin especially as you’d worn your second best yoga pants.

Colin is probably the most clued-up participant in the hall when it comes to his experience and interpretation of visions but only because he’d been on a course. Well, not really a course, per see. More like a skim through several websites that advertised courses. He’d been horrified by the prices if the truth were told. The cheapest was £75 and the most expensive £1,225. He’d been briefly tempted by a book that came in at £7.50 but after a few moments consideration had settled on reading through the various illuminating quotes. One which particularly struck him as being useful was this one about visions of the future: “If you want to change the future then don’t know it.” This appealed particularly to his rather lazy nature. This is why he’s going to be number 547,382 on the list on the board at the end of the world.

Lilias didn’t even look at the board because that’s what eating too much sugar does to you.

As for the rest, well they came in number wise according to how they took the news.

So, the world’s due to end in 53 minutes. What number will you be?

The entire Echo series is FREE for today and tomorrow! (12/2 and 12/3)

The entire Echo series—Echo 1, 2, 3, 4—is FREE on Kindle for today and tomorrow!  (12/2 and 12/3) Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here:  Vol. 1 on Kindle.  Vol. 2 on Kindle here:  Vol.2 on Kindle  Vol. 3 on Kindle here:  Vol. 3 on Kindle  Vol.4 on Kindle here:  Vol. 4 on Kindle  Echo Omnibus here:  Echo Omnibus  Echo Vol. 1 & […]

The entire Echo series is FREE for today and tomorrow! (12/2 and 12/3)