The quote I post here is one of my all-time favorite Campbell quotes to reflect on when there are times of trouble or questions of what life is all about, in the search for meaning. I also find lately that for me it contains wise words to ponder during this time of the corona virus outbreak when we are forced to be more alone and stay in our own space:
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
On the news and on almost every commercial/ad we see or hear now, we are met by the words, “We are in this together” or “Alone together.” I hear those words so much that at times it seems like every brand out there is using them. I wonder how much more new impact the image of “alone together” would have if one of the ads or news shows would recite the quote above in place of “alone together”–that would be quite a deepening.
This post could easily also “fit” under the topic of practical application of myth in daily life.
One of Campbell’s many gems, this is a favorite of mine, too. What I find particularly comforting is that it reminds me I can trust the story unfolding in and through my life – and, in relation to this present pandemic, in and through our collective experience.
Even if we aren’t hospitalized, or never contract the coronavirus, this really is a collective Hero’s Journey we are on. The virus (filtered through the voice of medical experts and public authorities) asks – or rather demands – that we “go inside.” That literal action has, in effect, prompted many to “go within” – in the process coming “to the center of our own existence . . .”
Covid19, individually and collectively, fosters a death-and-rebirth experience on multiple levels. There is the literal death of thousands, but also death to a way of life, death to the world-we-knew: what surfaces the other side of the abyss is bound to be different in so many ways. Despite the high human cost, whether we’ve sought it or not we have an opportunity to re-imagine a new reality. Who knows what will emerge – maybe new ways of working, new approaches to delivering health care, or new concepts of how to care for the planet in a technological era, and more?