The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, May 27, 2005

Being a Hero

The proper use of the Lifewriting system depends on being able to see yourself as a character in a story you are creating--your life. Yes, there are elements out of our control. But there are many, many aspects that are controlled by our actions and thoughts. And those actions and thoughts impact our families, friends, communities. So...I ask you seriously: what is your definition of a hero?
A long time ago, in exploring these questions, I was asked if there was another, more "feminine" aspect of this, perhaps a "Siren's Journey." I have to say that I don't know. Perhaps so. But every man and woman I've ever met has experienced life paths that correspond to the steps of the HJ as laid out for thousands of years: that is, to accept challenges in spite of fear. To begin the slow process of accomplishment. To gather allies, teachers and associates, and to refine skills. To face the spectre of failure, and defeat it with faith (and hard work!) and to accept the need to teach others what we have learned. So, without denigrating any other way of organizing our reality, this one works just fine for most goals that can be expressed in language.
There are, of course, spiritual goals that are more difficult to express. How do you quantify "achieve oneness with nature"? While one of the most valuable goals I can imagine, I have also known too many people who wandered into hallucination, lost for years or decades, swearing they were becoming incredibly spiritual people...while their earthly relationships suffered, they suffered poverty (and the important word here is "suffered." If one accepts poverty joyously, that's rather different, isn't it?) And their bodies balooned to grotesque proportion. Then, years later, they confessed to lying about the amount of fear and pain they were in at the time. Sad. So those outer goals are valuable.
The most intractable problems will do the most to convince you you need not address them. If you are, say, 100 pounds overweight, you can lose and re-gain, say, 20 of those pounds and never come close to the key issues. But wow! When you're losing them, you get to crow and expect people to congratulate you on the huge change. What if you have a dreadful relationship history? You can tell people you've decided to concentrate on career and physical health...while secretly negotiating the waters of yet another emotional disaster. And don't even get me started on the people who lurch from financial failure to financial failure, always planning some huge project, when they can't even balance their checkbooks.
In every case, they've let fear defeat them, distract them. They have failed to accept the responsibility for being a hero. Without goals, without micro-goals that can be assessed on a weekly or daily basis, you can wander for months, years, and decades with no real feedback as to your progress. I beg you not to make that mistake. Take that first step. Take responsibility, perhaps for the first time in your life, for these three arenas. Look at your history and take responsibility for where you are--stop blaming others. Be the hero in the adventure of your lifetime.


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