Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Odysseys and Journeys and Personal Understandings...Oh My!

   Journeys are everywhere. In my English class we are reading The Odyssey by Homer. Normally, I think authors who lack either a first or last name sound somewhat pretentious, but someone of Homer's status can probably pull it off. The book follows many characters on their individual journeys. Among those characters are Telemachus and Odysseus. The book in a way revolves around Odysseus, considering that most of the journeys are somehow related to him. Honestly, I don't enjoy reading the book. I think that it focuses on events that could be explained by a mere paragraph, and quickly breezes through topics that I would enjoy elaboration on. What I do enjoy about the book though, is the idea of  "the hero's cycle" or "the hero's journey." From The Odyssey to Star Wars, this concept of a hero's journey is everywhere. There are an unbelievable amount of movies and books that follow this format. The only place that we as a society often forget this format applies to is our own lives.
   There are many stages in the hero's journey, but there are a few that I consider to be the most important: the Call to Adventure, Obstacles, the Shadow Realm and the Return. Most of these stages are pretty self-explanatory. The Call to Adventure is the realization (whether it's accidental or intentional) that one has a mission they must accomplish, and therefore set out on their journey. In the case of Telemachus, his call to adventure is when the Greek god Athena comes to his house disguised as a mortal. The next stage is when one encounters obstacles. Obstacles are simply people or events that slow one down. The Shadow Realm (sometimes referred to as Hades) is one's weakest moment. It is seemingly the point of no return. It is an all time low. It is rock bottom. It is a feeling that every one of us has encountered. Finally, there is the Return. This is not just the voyage home, but the point where one gives back to the community after having learned what was learned on the entire journey.
   I personally can think of a journey that I went on. It was not like Odysseus's, but more of a mental journey. What I urge you to do though, is think of what journeys you have been on. Who was your Athena calling you to adventure? What were your obstacles? What was your Shadow Realm? Did you ever return?
  Asking yourself these questions is extremely important. The success of your life depends on if you recognize the journeys that you've already experienced. And that, in my opinion, is the really interesting aspect of The Odyssey. It opens a door to a world filled with journeys. Because the truth is, journeys are everywhere, and you can't have a future until you understand your past.

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