In fiction, as in real life, people face challenges. But how do we respond to them? Do we try to run away from them? Or, do we stand tall and face them?
Literature is full of heroes who are summoned for a great adventure, which promises glittering rewards–fame, fortune, immortality, love… But once the hero accepts the challenge, he/she must leave the comfort and security of home and cross the threshold into the unknown.
Some heroes like Bilbo Baggins are reluctant to take the first step. Other heroes are eager to strap on a sword, climb onto a horse, or set sail, and begin the adventure.
On this journey, the hero must pass through a series of thresholds or gates, guarded by an evil force–which can be terrifying or seductive or a combination of both.
However, if the hero stands firm and faces the ogre, he or she is in for a surprise:
“The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.”–Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
The great mythologist Joseph Campbell reveals one of the great “lessons” of the quest: by facing our fears, we learn that they are less powerful than we thought and they can be conquered. Imagine that! Still, we must be careful because our unexpected victories can go to our heads, and we can become overconfident.
From literature and the news, we learn about the dangers of hubris. Some remarkable people can achieve unimagined success in business, politics, sports, and the arts. But at the same time, they may start to believe that they have more power, skill, and intelligence than “ordinary” mortals. Some of them become convinced that they are not bound by the laws of society. In their drive to hold onto their success and fame, they succumb to the pressure to outperform others, to climb higher and to acquire more. How many successful people can you think of who have achieved great success only to be toppled from their pedestals and fall into shame or oblivion by “sins” of hubris? (Think of Lance Armstrong, Justin Bieber and Bernie Madoff.) The lesson here is to accept our success and accolades with humility and grace. And the acknowledgement that these external signs of achievement are not a measure of our intrinsic self-worth.
What have you learned by crossing a threshold and accepting a daunting challenge? Did you learn, like me, that you have greater strength and abilities than you ever imagined? Did you learn that your fears loom larger before you take action and they shrink once you take the first step?
To see other posts on the “threshold” theme, click on the links below:
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold |Monochrome Monday | The Girl Who Clicked
- On the Threshold of Power (Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold) | The San Francisco Scene–Seen!
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | mommyneurotic
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold… | M & A’s World
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold. Cervinia, Italy, the Mountain Majesty. The Daily Post, | parislux
- THRESHOLD | TALKING-STORY WITH PICTURES
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold #2 | Khana’s Web
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold #3 | Khana’s Web
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | MightWar
- Before She Says I Do.. | indahs: travel story & photography
- Weekly Photo Challenge; Threshold | Day One
- Searching for threshold | Change Is Hard
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | TRAVEL WORDS
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold (IV) | Uncle Spike’s Adventures
- Never smile at a … | Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera
- blend | yi-ching lin photography
- photography ~~ threshold (weekly photo challenge) | vintage french chic
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold | The Shady Tree
- Threshold of Spring | Depth of Feelings
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold – Sean Lowcay
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold ~ Of Life | Heavenly Raindrops
- Thresholds | breathofgreenair