Last night I watched the DVD “Joseph Campbell: The Hero’s Journey” because I wanted to know more about his work. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell codified thousands of years of myths from multiple cultures into what he described as The Hero’s Journey. Star Wars, Matrix and countless other movies and stories follow this outline.
Since my writing is predominately for women, with apologies to Campbell, I’m going to call it The Heroine’s Journey and we’re going to examine how it applies to midlife dating.
- A call to adventure, which the heroine has to accept or decline. In dating, this would be reentering single life, whether it was by your choice or not. (Sometimes in myths the hero/heroine did not choose the adventure.) Just as in myths, the heroine may not consider her new situation an “adventure” at first.
- A road of trials, in which the heroine succeeds or fails. We would call these first dates. 🙂 Or perhaps they are relationships gone sour. In order to advance on the path, you must face these trials and develop skills and knowledge as a result.
- Achieving the goal or “boon,” which often results in important self-knowledge. While you might naturally think the goal of dating is to find your next mate, it could be better knowledge of yourself and what you want in a mate. The dictionary describes “boon” as “a thing that is helpful or beneficial.” Insight and better self-knowledge are always helpful.
- A return to the ordinary world, again as to which the heroine can succeed or fail. The “ordinary world” for us would be, perhaps, entering into an exclusive relationship. And just as in myths, this can succeed or fail. Or the ordinary world could be your being fine with being single and dating — or not dating — as you please.
- Application of the boon, in which what the heroine has gained can be used to improve the world. You use your newfound insights, lessons, and skills to better communicate, have more empathy and patience, and make this relationship work. Or you more readily see it’s not working, discuss it and decide whether to stay or move on.
Where do you see yourself in The Dating Heroine’s Journey? I see myself moving through steps 2-5 repeatedly and becoming wiser with each excursion.
* Thanks to Wikipedia for the recap of the basic structure.
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