What is the value of the fact that we live out our lives as Myth, as an Epic or Episodic Story? Stories have structures: a beginning, middle and end. That is, they lead somewhere, and in the process of striving to achieve our storied destination, we always learn something valuable in the process. (If we don’t, then we may be in a ‘tragic’ mode, repeating the same sort of experience until we do finally ‘see the Light’, learn the lesson. Then we can move on to the next story, the next Life Chapter.)
On Sunday I introduced the idea of “parallel myths”: looking at the synoptic structure of your own Life Story to Now and comparing that with a popular storyline you can identify with. This in itself can help you to ‘heighten’ your own Story; to see its meaningful significance for yourself and others involved. It can also help you recognize your Goals in relation to the parallel-story Quest of the heroic tale.
So here’s a method for using a parallel myth or story to help you resolve a situation in your life.
First identify a Goal in your life, and an Obstacle or set of obstacles you are confronted with in trying to fulfill that goal.
Second, identify a parallel story in relation to your Goal and Obstacles. Is there a story you are familiar with where the hero aims to achieve a similar goal and encounters similar obstacles?
Name that Story: ________________________.
Third, review the way the hero or other protagonists in the parallel story overcome their obstacles to achieve their goal.
And Fourth then, reflect on (contemplate/ talk about/ journal or write or compose a poem or create a piece of art about): How might you APPLY the strategies used in the parallel story to the situation you face? What can you do to help you achieve your goal by comparison with this parallel story?
Sometimes this method will allow you to uncover a vital, practical solution you had not considered. At very least it can show you that you are not alone in facing your obstacles and that there are ways to achieve your goal.
As an example from my own life, currently I am engaged in something difficult but worthwhile; the most difficult ordeal and the most valuable, exciting opportunity of my life requires a daily effort to try to break through what in the past I would have accepted as self-limitations. Where I am at reminds me of the protagonist Chuck Noland in the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks (one of my favorites).
In order to continue forward with his life after being marooned on a Desert island, at a certain point Chuck arduously but successfully builds a raft and he aims to take it into the deep Ocean, so he will be rescued. The current, though, beats him back on his early attempts. He has to finally muster enough strength and ingenuity to mount a Sail (delivered serendipitously upon his stranded beach), one with enough heft that it will allow the raft to catch a wind to propel him past the beating tidal current that has kept him penned on the beach. This takes everything Chuck has: courage, determination, skill, patience, calculation, fortitude, and ultimately, action. He faces the odds, he encounters the vicissitudes of Nature, and ultimately he prevails. He exceeds those illusory self-limitations. Life beyond that goal is not entirely what he anticipates; his fiancée has married and he has no reason to stay with his former job. He is still a “cast-away”, but he has learned much that he will share as he continues forth into a valuable, if still uncertain future.
Just telling the Cast Away story in relation to my current travails is helpful. It buttresses my resolve and supports me in the alone-ness I often feel during this passage. Stories remind us that our own story matters; it must, of course, if only to ourselves. Any good story, one “worth telling,” leads to a grander space than its ‘middle’ ordeals might foretell. Any good motivation to achieve a destination bears fruit with its achievement beyond the hero’s own need or honor. It benefits the Whole that it is part of; hence it is worthy of the support of the Whole.
Seek comfort in the Whole (whatever you may choose to name IT); accept and receive Its love and support guiding you along on YOUR Journey!
I always welcome YOUR insights and stories!