|By Scott Stoll at Argonauts.com
MERLIN: What are you afraid of?
MERLIN: Shall I tell you what's out there?
ARTHUR: Yes, please.
A beast of such power that if you were to see it
whole and complete
in a single glance
it would burn you to cinders.
ARTHUR: Where is it?
It is everywhere.
It is everything.
Its scales glisten in the bark of trees.
Its roar is heard in the wind.
And its forked tongue strikes like....
Yes, that's it.
ARTHUR: How can I...? What shall I...? Must I...?
MERLIN: Do nothing. Be still. Sleep.
--From the movie Excalibur by John Boorman
Hero's Journey, Fool's Journey
Joseph Campbell's concept of the Hero's Journey
Who is the Hero? And who the Fool?
Folks back home say whoever sets out is a Fool. Ya don't know what's out there! It's dangerous! Whaddaya know about anything, anyway?
Folks back home say you can't do it without this or that. You're too young. Too old.
Sure, the world winnows both Dreamers and Seekers. The saddest tales are of those who Dream, but never set forth. Of those who do, some run home, tail between their legs. Some are lost along the way. Some fail their Ordeal. Some achieve great things, but never return to tell of them. Some drown within sight of shore. Some return home, having traded the cow for a handful of 'magic' beans.
Some few return with treasure. Of wealth. Of mind. Of spirit. Only these few are called Heroes... and the rest Fools.
Some win through by luck. By pluck. By persistence. By virtue. By True Love. Many of the storied Heroes are simply psychopaths... as monstrous as any met on the journey.
But all begin as Fools.
Why set out on this perilous Journey? What calls us out of our comfortable beds? Away from hearth and home? From the devil we know?
Some are driven by the sheer trauma of the life they leave behind. Anger, abuse or poverty can send a soul packing. Seeking something, anything better.
For others, it is discontent with law and order too ordered. Predictable, safe, empty and self-satisfied.
And then there's the call of the unknown. That far horizon. Adventure. Dreams. Great deeds to be done. Great treasure to be won.
Some of us long for the remains of the natural world. Our first home. The Wild.
For these Fools, the Hero's Journey has been turned on its head... it is the Wild, not the furrowed field that is the point of departure and return. The Wild that is, of its own being, the treasure. That is, itself, the Reward.
These Fools make friends with, rather than slay, the Dragon. Learn to ride the Dragon. Live to love the ride.
Until that day the Dragon consumes us, as it will, Hero and Fool alike. Whether at home or abroad.
For my money, it is Heroic enough to set out upon the Journey. To risk all on the Road. To risk the Dragon. The Abyss. Heck, I think it's heroic enough to stay home and live a life of quiet integrity.
What kind of Fool are you?
What kind of Hero?