I'm sure many others have written much better stuff on this topic than me, but after seeing Iron Man 3 tonight (it was awesome - even better than 1 and 2), I found myself thinking about the story arcs of hero trilogies - we have Sam Rami's Spider-Man, Christopher Nolan's Batman, Peter Jackson's Aragorn, George Lucas's Luke Skywalker, and now Jon Favreau and Shane Black's Iron Man (of course there's also Shrek, Neo, Will Turner, Sheriff Woody, Captain Kirk, and hopefully a Superman trilogy coming!)
The stories seem to follow a similar pattern - discovering a new/true identity, struggling through the tests of one's destiny, and finally leaving a noble legacy. It is frequently some life altering event that brings on the new identity (loss of parents, captivity & torture, a crisis of some kind). Then follows a series of tests which include fighting fears within, fighting the evil out there, fighting the evil inside, fighting the desire to quit, fighting the hype of one's own success, fighting to protect the ones you love, fighting for those who need you, fighting to keep your convictions intact, fighting to keep your soul, fighting for the greater good. The hero's journey is a complex maze of no simple choices. There is a time to fight on and a time to let go, a time to fight with all you've got and a time to sacrifice yourself totally. And finally, when the hero's story concludes can he (or she) finish well leaving the world a better place. Leave with their heart and soul intact. Leave having loved those who are closest to them well.
I believe that all of our lives are part of a great hero story - there is a Great Hero that we can emulate and follow. And yet, each of our lives is a story in and of itself. Have you discovered who you are? What tests have you faced? Are you facing? Will you finish the race well? One of my greatest fears is that I will fail to finish well especially now that I have little ones whose lives are so dependent upon mine. I'm thankful for the hero stories that remind me of what kind of man I need to be. I'm thankful for my family - they inspire me to be heroic. And I'm thankful for the Great Hero who guides my life each day.
What are your thoughts on the hero's journey?