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What’s With the Hero’s Journey?

March 4, 2021
March 4, 2021 Sara K Schneider

You may, as I have, noticed lately lots and lots of people connecting what they do with the “Hero’s Journey,” that famous archetypal story structure made famous by Joseph Campbell. In the past week alone, I’ve seen people hooking the Hero’s Journey up with everything from leadership training to how to network to strategies for getting through the pandemic. 

The Hero’s Journey has become the foundation of Hollywood films.

But that’s only because it already replicates what’s been happening in the human experience — way before films were a twinkle in anyone’s eye.
The Hero’s Journey gives a name to an eternal structure for how our folk stories become satisfying to listen to as well as to live.
But today let’s get small.

Why is that word used so da_ _ much?

There’s the the grief journey, the customer journey, the band named Journey, the Journey shoe brand, the Dodge Journey, the mental health journey, the parenting journey, even the Girl Scouts Journey.

The word is plum everywhere. And why?

Here’s my stab at it: It’s one of our root metaphors for what it is to “go” through life. To experience something in time. To be in one “place” at one point and at a different “place” at another.
The image of the journey gives spatial reference points to the fact that we feel we’re different after something momentous has happened or after we’ve “gone” through a key process or after our consciousness has “shifted” in some way.
“I’m in a different place now.”
“He’s in a better place.” (whether mentally or when some people respond to news of someone’s death)
Calling something a journey is a way of giving placefulness to time-based events that seem linked.
It’s a way of making real.
When I use the word “journey,” I’m always reminded of high-school French, where I learned we inherited the word in English from “journée,” that distance one could travel in a day’s time.
That linking of time and space. A way to see and regard the invisible that one feels. A way to make the living one does a thing.
Pretty good for one word.