It was the middle of summer when my mother came up with the idea that I should volunteer to work the community fields. It was supposed to get me out of the house and in the path of a husband. I would be 40 at the end of autumn, and I wasn’t married. It broke my mother’s heart.
In recent years, rumors had begun to spread about a man who brought magic to the world. They called him the Unseen. Some said he was handsome; some said he was not. Some said he was tall and thin; some said he was tall and fat. Some said he was fair; some said he was dark. No one knew his age.
I’ve been doing the latest 21-day meditation challenge from Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra about desire and destiny. The meditation on the sixth day was on resilience and what challenges in life really mean. This made me think of the New Age mantra “it’s all good,” which I’ve frankly always found annoying. But there is a core message in it about life that goes beyond just the fact that everything is a learning experience. It tells us something about our relationship to the Universe.
We now come to the last chapter of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” where Joseph Campbell talks to us about the hero today (not just of the late 1940s, when the book was written, but also of the today we live in). Although Campbell doesn’t lament “the good old days” when identity was tied completely to the group, he’s critical of the way Western culture has swung so completely to the other side. As a result, rituals, myth, and art, all expressions of our quest for deeper understanding, are relegated to the sidelines of life. Campbell argues that spiritual seeking is the way to bring balance between our part in the group and the expression of our individuality.
In the last section of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell writes about the relevance of mythology to modern times. He wrote this book in the 1940s, which is about 65 years ago now, yet his observations about myth are still true. Mythology is about the mysteries of life, which is relevant to all people in all times.