I must admit that I tend to worry too much, it’s one of my character traits that I’m fighting, but I am in no way a superhero. It’s going to take me a little time to explain the title of this post – Worries and Superheroes. It’s one of the ways I’m trying to get past my tendency to worry (about almost everything).
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek
This is actually a quote attributed to Joseph Campbell (for the background see this webpage);
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek
I first heard this quote in the Bob Proctor video, ‘The Ultimate Secret’ Beyond The Law Of Attraction, and it has really stuck in my mind. The idea that we might not be getting the things we really want in this world because of fear and worry of what we have to do to get them. Bob Proctor talks nicely about the problems of fear in his video.
Worry (and fear) stifles our lives. It makes us cower in the corner and not even go close to getting what we want.
Sometimes we are forced into the cave
While watching this documentary about the story of Eben Alexander (a neurosurgeon who was critically ill, brain dead and in a coma for 7 days before awakening to describe incredible near-death experiences), I realised something that linked directly to Joseph Campbell’s quote. Eben was forced into a cave to find a treasure he didn’t even know he was seeking, but it gave him immense joy to have found it.
Imagine if Eben was warned that he was suddenly going to get critically ill and enter a 7-day coma. He would have done anything he could to avoid that. In Joseph Campbell’s words, Eben would have had fear of entering this cave.
However today, with hindsight, knowing how this whole experience turned out, I’d bet Eben would not be afraid and would welcome it.
Bad things can be good?
Eben Alexander’s story proves that bad things can actually be good. I think everyone would agree that e-coli meningitis and a 7-day coma is a very bad thing but, as this story turned out, it was one of the most positive things to happen to Eben. How can we tell what’s good and bad? We don’t have the full perspective to judge with any surety.
One of the near-death experiences that Eben had was being told (by a beautiful girl who turned out to be a dead sister of his that he’d never known about);
You can do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.
Could that imply that all fear is just an illusion based on our limited perspective?
Finding Joe & Slaying Dragons
This now leads my thoughts onto the movie Finding Joe. This movie is about the teachings of Joseph Campbell and it’s a movie that has had a profound effect on me. I’ve watched it many times already and will watch it many more.
One of the key themes in the film is the concept of “slaying your dragons“. Joseph Campbell said that a key part of progressing through life is facing your fears and worries (your “dragons”) and conquering them (“slaying” them), and moving on. It’s assumed that we implicitly have the wherewithall to conquer our dragons, but often fear and worry hold us back (in fact, fear and worry are two dragons we might have to slay).
If we look at all people who have had successful lives around us, we see that they all have had to slay their owns dragons in various shapes and sizes. Joseph Campbell noted that this is a common trait of all folk tales in all the cultures of the world. In these tales a hero must go out into the unknown, face and slay “dragons” and return home with wonderful stories to tell. Joseph called this “the heroes journey”.
You could say that life is all about being a hero of some sort. Cowering away and refusing to go near the cave that we fear will never get us close to being a hero. I wonder if that’s the meaning behind the Parable of the talents story in the bible. We’re all given capabilities (to slay dragons!) and we shouldn’t waste them.
What if life was all fun and pina coladas?
Is all this sounding a bit weird and abstract to you? If the above isn’t true, then how about the opposite – a lifetime of pure fun and pina coladas. I suspect many of you are now saying “now we’re talking!”, but really, what would be the point? Sure, no pressure and just fun – that’s sounds good – but what would be the achievement in that? We’d leave this world just as we entered, we wouldn’t have achieved anything or learnt anything or conquered anything, we wouldn’t have “grown” at all. It doesn’t seem to me that such a life would be of much use to anyone.
Worries and Superheroes
Now, heading back to the reason behind the title of this post, my thoughts wander back to bad things that might actually be good and towards the stories of the “superheroes” that are all around us in the comics and the movies. Joseph Campbell was fascinated by the superhero stories because they exist in all civilisations and the fundamentals of all the stories is the same (the hero’s journey).
Have you noticed that superheroes in our common stories generally have no fear or worry. Worries and superheroes don’t seem to go together. Even though they are going up against formidable, evil foes, they take them on with an almost cheerful sense of duty and service to all the people on the planet.
Consider a superhero story that had no elements of bad or evil in it? There would be no story! The superhero would have nothing to do, nothing to conquer, nothing from which to save the world.
Are we mini superheroes?
At some level, could this be an answer for our lives? Does bad and evil exist in this world because it has to, because our lives would have no meaning if it wasn’t there? Must we find some evil to conquer, find a cave that we fear and enter it, in order for us to find treasure and create a life with meaning?
When I sit quietly and think about these things, something deep inside tells me there’s truth somewhere in these statements. Even if the dragons and caves only exist inside ourselves…
Am I on the right track here? Can you help me unravel these thoughts?