Everyone knows those words, or at least they’ve heard of it. Joseph Campbell immortalized the term, or the monomyth, for the general template used in story telling where we are introduced to a character who goes on a grand adventure, faces and overcomes major adversity, and is changed by it in the end. That’s the Cliffnotes, anyway. Add a mentor here, dash of romance there, et cetera, et cetera.
George Lucas, director of Star Wars, probably did it the most famously. In fact, he copied the template to the letter, but he also defined his success with the story he told, and the manner in which he told it. We’re introduced to Luke Skywalker, adolescent farm boy with very little in the way of world experience. His family is stripped from him, and he’s forced (like that pun) into the company of the mentor, in this case Obi-Wan Kenobi. The two join up with Han Solo, rescue the girl, lose the mentor, then the remaining party joins the rebellion and goes on to win the war — or the first part of it anyway. Luke is forever changed in the process. He takes his first steps toward becoming a Jedi Knight, like his father before him, and on the story goes.
But Star Wars is now a household name. Everyone knows it. Not everyone has seen the original trilogy of movies, the one that truly used the monomyth for its basis, but they still know the name.
Sometimes we forget that the hero’s journey is a template that even our normal lives can relate to. You never know, the next time you go to the gas station you might get wrapped up in some monstrosity of an adventure and end up countries away, on a mission to deliver the plans to the first Dunkin Donuts in Nepal. Wait, is there a Dunkin Donuts in Nepal?
Nope. I Googled it. Doesn’t exist. You may be the one.
May the Force be with you.
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash