What sorts of character arcs and storylines do you find most compelling? Can you identify with a particular story; does it mirror aspects of your own life goals and challenges? I like to say, myth is the stuff our lives our made of, because myth is made up from the stuff of our lives!
Our lives have the meaning that we give to them, and much of the meaning we bring to our life experiences derives from stories we have related to from childhood. “The Wizard of Oz,” for example, tells the tale of a young person seeking to find her own strength so she can save her beloved pet dog from being taken away after having disturbed a mean neighbor’s garden. This story propels the main character, Dorothy, into her own unconscious archetypal depths to find the courage, heart, and wisdom she will need to face the wicked neighbor with a more mature, integrated sense of Self.
Many of us have faced ogres or so-called witches in our worlds, needing to dig deeply into our unconscious reservoirs of archetypal personas to assemble and marshal the character traits we may need to confront the forces of negativity and emerge whole from either a physical and/or from a moral and spiritual perspective.
In my book Your Life Path (2018), I present a Parallel Myth technique that can help you identify a story that resonates closely with the Life Chapters, themes, and character arcs of your own Life Story. (You can see a template for this technique without buying the book by downloading for free the My Life Path Mapping Toolkit from the right margins of this blog.) So one way to find a parallel myth to understand the meaningful stuff of your own life story is to discover your Life Chapters and compare these with some story you identify with. A simpler approach would be: think of or write a short list of stories you have always loved because somehow you feel you can identify either with the plot of the story or with a character in that tale. Let’s take that approach here.
So, make a list of stories from novels, short stories, or movies that you have long felt you can identify with. Write a brief account for each of these as to how or why you might identify. I will give an example of some of my own most meaningful stories just to demonstrate the process:
- The Wizard of Oz: In my youth I would often “run away” because I felt berated or tormented by my father’s harsh temper. I would hide in a closet or actually leave for a while (or sneak out) to gain a sense of independence or freedom.
- Contact: I share Eleanor Arrowway’s drive to pursue uncommon truths via both scientific and spiritual pathways.
- Harry Potter: In my childhood I often felt myself to be the ‘runt’ of the family (short, awkward, plain), but as I discovered spiritual truths and a sense of spiritual camaraderie from my early twenties on, I have gradually gained tools, and friends (including in my family), that have helped me recognize my own strengths to be of service to others.
Do you have your list? Write it out. What are some parallel mythic themes, characters, and messages from these stories that are mirrored in your own Life Story?
Next then, what messages might you take forward from your parallel myth(s) that can help you achieve the Better Endings you seek in your own storied life? Review your listed parallel myths and pay attention to the positive potentials of these stories’ resolutions. E.G.:
- The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy unifies her sense of self by combining her archetypal qualities of courage, heart, and wisdom so she can stay ‘home’ and face the dark forces that had beset her there. Somehow I figure at the end of the movie that Toto is going to be okay, because Dorothy is strong enough in her own more mature Self to face the neighbor from a sense of responsibility and courage. (My message: Find the courage to stand my own ground when faced with negativity or obstacles.)
- Contact: Ellie discovers a parallelism between science and religion (mirrored in her own relationship with Father Joss) when her ‘through-the-wormhole’ solo space adventure reveals new dimensions to reality. (My message: Continue to plunge the depths of science and spirituality, sharing as possible, but mainly to deepen my own understanding and awareness of incontrovertible realities beyond the ‘pale’ of common knowledge.)
- Harry Potter: Teaming up with his own archetypally well matched ensemble cast of friends, Harry solves some of the mysteries of his lower self to gain courage and self-awareness that can defeat any negativity that may confront him or his world. (My message: Stay true to who you are and stand up for your highest values despite any efforts to alienate or undermine your and your friends’ finest qualities.)
What messages do you derive from comparing some of your favorite parallel myths and your own Life Story (to now)? What do the positive endings or potentials of these stories offer forth to you about achieving Better Endings in your own mythic-story?