The Hero’s Journey

Last year I had a discussion about how the human mind is wired with a close friend. She is a doctor, so I probably should have just taken what she said and accepted it. But that isn’t my way. The discussion centered around how humans connect with stories of the “Hero’s Journey.” That whether the story is a book or a movie there is a formula or pattern that should be followed. Instantly my skin bristled, surely this could be true for some but for the majority? Could we all really be wired to need to be force feed a regurgitated story line simply re-purposed based on the writers twists? I love the idea that people can just be creative, let the words flow. Not over think things. Just let the pieces fall into place.

She has written a novel. Okay, not just one but two novels and the second is currently being shopped around with publishers by her agent. The past year has allowed me to see the process of revision. Taking something good and interesting and polishing it. Maybe polishing is wrong, there have been wholesale changes and rewrites. Her first major revision was to adapt her story to more closely follow the hero’s journey format. It worked.

You ask, “How does this relate to sailing?” Well my friends, like this – For cruisers we like to believe that we chart our own course. Adhering only to the schedule that Mother Nature sets for us and the desire to explore. I want to believe that when I raise the sails and head south it will be without a formula. Without following the pack. Creatively choosing locations where I can learn about other cultures, experience life through the eyes of those vastly different from us, learn more about what makes us different and the same.

I’d like to think that I could let life just flow. But as much as it pains me to admit that is not reality. Reality is that there is a pattern. I am following in the footsteps of so many others. The adventure is mine but I will depend on the regurgitated story-line of others who have set off to circle the Earth before me. I will follow their template, using their knowledge of how to do it safely, of where to find the things I need, of where the excessive danger exists, of what I should see and do. My story is not yet written and there will be surprises but when this journey is complete – when I stand back and look at it as a whole – I’m betting I will see the hero’s journey. Now it is time for octopus and steak tacos. At the same taco stand that I visit every time I come to San Diego, fucking patterns…

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