Most of you, I bet, have been bitten by the writing bug at one time or another. Perhaps there burns an all-consuming desire to pen, for the world, a sweeping saga of tragedy and triumph. Or, perhaps, something quieter and more intimate brews beneath the surface, meant to be revealed only to the few and the privileged. If you have a yen to tell a tale but believe, for whatever reason, that you don’t have what it takes, just know that everything you need, the stuff of legend itself, is already inside you.
Here’s a little exercise to demonstrate what I mean. It’s designed to show how incidents in your everyday life, when analyzed as a story, can take on mythic proportions. The trick is: you’ll be casting yourself as one of four familiar archetypes. They are: The Hero in Spite of Himself. The Divinely Guided Innocent. The Wounded Hero. And the Quester. Why these four? Because each, in its own way, embodies one of four steps on the path to self mastery.
You’re bound to experience some identification with each of them. That’s only natural. Life isn’t static. Heroes move up and down the “cosmic escalator” all the time, integrating past lessons with potential for growth. Our specific goal is to find out which of the four archetypes you identify with most, right now.
Whichever one it is, he or she will mirror the characteristics, the recurring life patterns and themes, that place you where you are in the plot of your unique fairy-tale. Apart from granting you useful insights into your own nature, these patterns and themes can lend a deep sense of reality to the journey of any fictional hero you create. (Cutter didn’t spring from thin air, y’know. He’s me, scars and all!)
Be aware that doing this exercise will require some soul-searching and, maybe, some uncomfortably honest answers. When I gave this talk at the Bodhi Tree in LA, the audience found it helpful for me to answer the questionnaire along with them. Some remarked it seemed like a new way of “journaling.” You may prefer to respond in your own head, but I highly recommend printing out the questionnaire and taking the time to fill it out by hand. What will emerge, as you’ll discover, is a real story about you, with a beginning, a middle, an end and even a moral.
We’ve set things up here on the web site so that you can enter your answers onto the web page right next to the questions — We’ll remember the answers you gave us, and show them to you again when they’re needed. If you don’t want to answer, that’s okay, as well, you’ll still be able to read the article in its entirety.