Karen Darrin

Some of you may be acquainted with Joseph Campbell’s work from his book, “A Hero With a Thousand Faces.” For those of you who are not familiar with Campbell’s work, here is a brief summary of what he calls “The Hero’s Journey:”

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man” (Campbell, Joseph. 1949).

Think of Odysses, Jesus, Moses, Buddah, even Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, as examples of this pattern of a hero’s journey. Think about some of the hard things you have already walked through in your own life. I would bet my next dessert on you seeing a pattern similar to what Campbell describes. More about that in my next blog.

For now though, let me tell you about my own hero’s journey. I just returned from one and am in that pensive state of mind when you see some unbelievable meaning with what was hard to do, at the time.

I volunteered to help a friend recuperate from surgery. She is a casual friend of mine and had helped me many times through the years. Since she lived alone, moving in with her allowed her to come home from the hospital immediately to recuperate at home instead of the dreaded rehab facility.  Now, I can work anywhere and when I considered offering my help, I had no doubts that I was to step up. I knew I was to help her. But, I really had no idea why or what a big deal this would be.

My little Westie and I moved in and stayed with my friend for 30 days until she could take back her day-to-day life. It was a long 30 days for everyone (especially the patient!) but it was also rich with so many takeaways for me personally that I am still reeling.

Back to Campbell’s mythical journey. He talks in detail about the fabulous forces that help the hero along the way. The fabulous forces that I encountered along my way were a huge parade of friends and neighbors that this friend has in her circle of influence. My God, the casseroles!  There were also the friends that I have that offered me encouragement as I supported another. And there were the medical personnel that came to her home to reassure and strengthen her body and spirit as she healed, loving called the “physical terrorists.”

I really can’t say where these fabulous forces started or ended but it seemed once she decided to step out on her own journey of the surgery, they were there. In the same way, once I decided to accept this adventure to help my friend, my own fabulous forces came forward just when I needed them. This is a magical phenomenon.

I would bet that you are on your own hero’s journey right now. I don’t know where you are in the various stages of that journey, but I encourage you to trust that once you accept this journey, saying “yes” to the unknown, you will also have an amazing army of fabulous forces who will help you along the way. Be open to those forces. See them as the magical blessings that they are. For you know you were never meant to travel any journey alone.


Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 1st edition, Bollingen Foundation, 1949. 2nd edition, Princeton University Press. 3rd edition, New World Library, 2008.