When your story, which genre do you use?
Are you the Hero?
Were you rollicking along quite happily when an unexpected call for your attention, effort and skills arrived out-of-the blue?
Did you hesitate but eventually relent?
Was your journey rocky at moments, yet in quite surprising ways, did the world come out to help you?
Did you triumph eventually, though most of the time you thought you would fail, horribly?
Did you come home at last, and sadly find an unappreciative audience?
You might be a Villain of course
You were rollicking along quite happily doing your thing when, suddenly, you had a chance to do something, well, not so honest, pleasant or fair to advance your cause? And you took your chance. You succeeded wonderfully. You have the champagne and fast car to prove it but you will never be a push-over again?
Or you might be a Tragic Victim
You weren’t rollicking along quite happily and you got the call for your attention anyway. And it was a pain in the rear end. And it all went badly. As it always does.
Do you prefer the Hero story?
We tell all three stories but it seems that we like the first best. We like the scary Hero story which comes out OK in the end.
But it is very scary along the way.
1 Refusal of the call
We no more want to accept the call than we want to get up at 5am on a Sunday morning. Our creature comforts are important to us. But equally we are glad, pretty much as we do when we are up and about before sunrise. Our horizons widen and we feel vital and alive. It’s a viseral thing. It’s not scientific or measured by a questionnaire. It’s visceral. We feel our pulse quicken. We feel engaged. We feel that we are living.
2 Trials and Tribulations
Yes, we have the special skills and qualities to pull this off for those who ask, but it is a big ask. And failure flashes before us. It really seems that this is the one that will get away.
And not everyone wants us to succeed, either. There are plenty who would have us fail and will do their utmost to make sure we do.
Yet, there are others who come out to help us. Once we have got over our earlier procastination and unwillingness to get going, the universe conspires to help us.
We don’t know that we will succeed. But we do that we want to, for ourselves, for the people who asked, and for the people who joined us along the way. Our desire to succeed makes the possibility of failure all the more scary.
3 The return
And the oddest feature of all in the hero’s story is the disorientation we feel on our return.
We may be a hero returned from a war. We might have won a gold medal at the Olympics. We may have graduated from uni.
We have the party. We have the parade. But it is a let-down.
We aren’t being party-poopers or ungrateful. It’s just that we are no longer who we were when we began, and nor are the people we left behind. We have a lot of catching up to do.
Some people don’t try. They leave again and try to relive their adventure. Grand prix racing drivers spring into my unkind mind.
Some people go quiet. Old soldiers do particularly. People cannot understand what they have gone through.
Others understand that they are in a new phase of their lives. They engage with the community around them and they bring their new selves to what is happening around them. They may have a relatively quiet period as they become reoriented and re-weave their place within it. This can be hard. But it is easier when we live the question.
How can we, who have been away, find our way in the old life to which we return, but which is really a new place whee we return as a stranger.
What is our call now? What is our new adventure? What is the new call from the people around us?
The words of poet Mary Oliver get us a clue.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.