On the Hero's Journey of the Digital Nomad
Recently, I went and visited my family. We watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens since our ages ranged from thirteen to almost seventy.
As a brand, Star Wars has always been a multi-generation crowd pleaser. You always know what you’re going to get: good versus evil. I enjoyed the movie even though it is a bit formulaic. Years ago, I read Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I also watched the series of interviews he did with Bill Moyers. I was fascinated by his theory of the Monomyth. Campbell discusses Star Wars several times during the interviews. Luke Skywalker is on the ultimate hero’s journey after all. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that Campbell was directly involved in the creation of the storyline of the original movie and George Lucas invited Campbell to Skywalker ranch several times over the years to give lectures.
For those who are unfamiliar with Joseph Campbell or his theory of the Monomyth, let me give you a very short explanation. Campbell was a professor of comparative religion studies for many years. He spent several years teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Campbell was from a fairly wealthy family and was able to travel throughout his life to various exotic locales. He had a keen professional interest in the myths of various cultures and studied them intently. Campbell had a theory that all myths, from every culture, sprang from the what Carl Jung called the Collective Unconscious, sort of like a genetic hard drive that all humans inherited and carried in their unconscious minds. Due to cultural differences and societal influences, these shared myths were all somewhat altered but the core of the myths was not.
This Monomyth that Campbell enjoyed describing to others is sometimes referred to as The Hero’s Journey. Simply put, every culture (according to Campbell) has a myth where a young man goes out into the world (sometimes even into the underworld) and obtains unknown or forbidden knowledge which ultimately changes him. The hero then returns to his home and shares what he has learned. He becomes the keeper of the knowledge (e.g. a shaman, wizard, wise one, etc.). Campbell fully explains his theory of the monomyth in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Here is a good explanation of the various stages and sections within the Monomyth.
As someone who currently lives a digital nomadic lifestyle and works with digital nomads on occasion, I see a parallel between the digital nomad existence and the Hero’s Journey. As digital nomads we also leave hearth and home (i.e. the known), in search of adventure and “forbidden” knowledge (i.e. can I survive on my own in a strange place?). We experience adventure through our travels to various distant lands. I know that as I have traveled, I encountered both trials (I survived a hurricane) and temptations. How about you?
I am still searching for what Campbell called The Ultimate Boon and who knows when I will experience my Crossing of the Return Threshold. I encourage everyone who is on a long term travel journey to read the seventeen stages of the Monomyth. The more I review it and the longer I wander as a digital nomad and writer; the more parallels I observe. Do you view this paradigm in your life as well?
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