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Dave and Anke
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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Hero's Journey, Fool's Journey

By Scott Stoll at

MERLIN: What are you afraid of? 

ARTHUR: I don't know. 

MERLIN: Shall I tell you what's out there? 

ARTHUR: Yes, please. 


The Dragon.
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.... 
like lightning! 
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?


  1. Fool? Hero? Often it comes down to one's point of view. You don't need to meet the wizard or the mentor to start your journey. You can be your own wizard.

    1. Hi Sixbears,

      Point of view, yes!

      Mentors... yes, but. But many mentors/wizards go unrecognized as such. That parent, sibling or teacher that taught us to read? That friend who believed in us?

      Or the ones we'll never meet. How 'bout that first hominid to go to sea on a log and all those who came after? Archimedes the Buoyant? Bolger the Square? Farrels the Free?

      We journey on the shoulders of giants!

      Dave Z

  2. Replies
    1. Hmm. Been reading too much Jung, have I?

      This all started as musings on the fate of Chris McCandless (Into the Wild).

      If that helps. 8)

      Dave Z

  3. Thought provoking for sure, Don't know if I love it or hate it, but either way that would be my own short comings rather than the writing.

    1. Hi Len,

      Interesting reaction. I myself am somewhat ambivalent about Campbell's 'Hero Cycle', but he makes a pretty compelling argument that it's common to every known human culture.

      Of course, in many ways, it is sewn together as a loose, one size fits all garment.

      It fascinates me and repels me in the same way the Tarot, I Ching and Grimm's fairy tales do.

      Something about 'em, hard to put my finger on.

      Dave Z

  4. Beautifully crafted and thought provoking fodder regarding a life well lived and realized.

    Most folks finish out with death bed regrets of unfulfilled dreams when mere action was all that was required. The two bookends might be the wild eyed wanderer in tatterred clothing eating his way out of dumpsters across america vrs the waiting for retirement, statolounger locked anxiety filled classic yank consumer debt slave. In the middle perhaps a trailer park based, no credit (actually free and they don't realize it), slack jawed cheeto dusted teeth Joe 6-pack celebrating the 4th of July.

    Perhaps all a bit harsh but it is what you make it in the end. We could extrapolate it out to three 16 triloboat builders who do radically different things with their 16X4 love tools.

    Anyway..... lovely piece and thanks for jogging my own memory about what a realized life might look like.

    1. Hi Roberto,

      One of the great benefits of the searchable internet is the realization of how many folks are out there doing it!

      They may not write a book (as did those who inspired me), but maybe an article, a blog or post a pic.

      A legion of heroes!

      Dave Z

  5. "One must think like a hero in order to behave like a decent human being." --May Sarton

    Choosing to take upon the necessary duties of bringing into the world a little one as a parent -- unless done slapdash and lazily in suchwise as plunking a vulnerable and sensitive mind and heart in front of a screen (as all-to-often becomes the sad state of affairs in our place and time) -- surely must partake of the hero's journey, and the fool's start, glamorous or not. Done well (or for that matter, done badly), there is little in it of the kind which advertises one's boldness or causes people to envy the adventure. In the scheme of things, it's a little like janitorial work or garbage collection or street sweeping or sewage treatment -- vitally necessary, but ultimately viewed by nearly everyone (if noticed at all) as inevitably and compellingly low in status.

    So much is like this: absolutely necessary, time consuming to a degree that it forestalls charismatic adventure, almost invisible in so far as it has been completely taken for granted, and casteless, yet capable of testing a person to the limit.

    Little I've consciously or purposefully done has mattered more, though, or called upon more from me, even as I was forced wait and to abide, instead of depart.

    1. Hi Peter,

      Unsung heroes, but heroes, nonetheless. 8)

      Dave Z