Are you willing to be the hero in your life story?


And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

— Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

I rented the movie Transformers last week. Now hold on just a minute before you give me a hard time. Sometimes you just need to chill out with a mindless movie. I never watch TV so once a week I give myself the opportunity to indulge my inner child and watch a fun movie. And this was actually very fun!

But I’m not writing this to get you to go out and rent Transformers. (Although I know you want to!) No, this is about your life. Isn’t it always?

You see, as I was watching, I started to think about why we have so many action/adventure/sci-fi movies and why I enjoy them so much (especially the sci-fi ones). And as I was watching and thinking about it (so much for mindless!) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces  popped into my head. Now you’re probably wonder what the heck does Joseph Campbell have to do with the Transformers? Not a lot, really. But somehow through my warped grasp on reality I managed to tie them together!

If you don’t know Joseph Campbell, he was perhaps the most famous and influential mythologer of the 20th century. And, let’s face it, as sad as it might be, these movies are a major part of our cultural mythology. I mean I grew up on Marvel comic books and those little suckers provided the stories and myths that I needed to make it through an otherwise life draining childhood.

And whether myths are stories told around a campfire, or tales told during a sweat lodge ceremony, or action adventure movies watched in 3D, they server a purpose. And that purpose is to remind us that we are the heroes of our lives.

We’re all on a hero’s journey. Whether or not we know it, our lives are the journey and, like it or not, we are the hero! The problem is that most of us never realize that we’re the hero on the journey of our life because our lives don’t very often resemble the Transformers or Lord of the Rings, or the Matrix, or Live Free or Die Hard.

Mostly we think that our lives are just, well, normal.

But that’s where we’re wrong. Our lives are anything but normal. And we get to choose, in every moment, whether we’re going to be the hero in our life, or if we’re going to watch our life pass by.

Remember the scene in Three Kings (another one of those hero myth movies) where George Clooney explained how courage worked to one of the other guys.

The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.

Well that’s how life works, even if you’re not in the Iraqi desert trying to find Saddam’s gold. Except that in our “normal” lives the things that we’re scared shitless of don’t seem like they should be all that scary. So we don’t think that our lives are an adventure or a journey. And we don’t think that we’re the heroes. But we are.

But every time we do the thing we’re scared shitless of – things like saying yes when the boss asks for someone to do a presentation, or starting our own business, or telling someone welove them for the first time, or asking our crush out on a date – we’ve stepped into the role of hero in our life.

So stop waiting for your life to turn into an adventure and start living as if it’s an adventure now!

Stop waiting for the moment when you have to be “heroic” and start looking for those moments right now, every day.

You don’t have to be battling Megatron to be a hero. Your battles are happening right now, even as you’re reading this. Ask yourself, “What would a hero do, if he or she was living my life right now?” And then go and do it!

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    16 Responses to “Are you willing to be the hero in your life story?”

    1. Jenny Mannion on March 7th, 2008 7:55 am

      Hi Ed, Amazing you used a quote from my favorite song AND a quote from Three Kings which I loved. Yes, it is so true that we need to be the heroes in our own lives. Face our fears, grow and keep on surprising ourselves. There is no limit to our individual power unless we believe there is. GREAT post Ed! (As usual) 😉 Gratefully, Jenny

    2. Aaron - Today is that Day on March 7th, 2008 10:50 am

      Nice one, Ed! You make so many excellent points.

      For many people, their lives seem so much like an ANTI-adventure that instead of become the hero who blasts away the bad guys, they end up being a victim who gets squashed as an “innocent bystander”.

      At least if you’re out there battling the good fight (whatever that is for YOU), you’ll either win, or you’ll go down fighting! 🙂

    3. Reg Adkins on March 7th, 2008 10:51 am

      Hello Ed,
      I’m a new reader but I think you nailed it.
      My own personal fictional hero quote is from the Steve Marin movie Parenthood.
      “Life, is like your aunt Edna’s ass (pardon my language). It goes on forever and it’s just as scary.”

    4. Edward Mills on March 7th, 2008 9:47 pm

      Jenny. Well that’s pretty cool to hit your favorite song and one of your favorite movies in one post!

      Aaron. I like that… “anti-adventure.” You’re so right. It seems many people do whatever they can to avoid the adventures that life has to offer.

      Reg. That’s a great quote. I can totally picture Steve Martin saying it. Never saw Parenthood, but maybe I’ll have to add that to my list of mindless fun flicks to check out when the mood arises!

    5. Karen Lynch-Live the Power on March 8th, 2008 9:37 am

      Great post Ed!
      I love the “Scared Shitless” quote (and Transformers is one of my husbands favorite movies!)

    6. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker on March 8th, 2008 12:05 pm

      I loved the movie Transformers. I went to see it with my 31 year old son. We both watched the cartoon Transformers when he was a child and loved it to. It teaches that good always triumphs. We definitely need heroes today. I love the idea of being your own hero. I decided with my first trip to India in 1998 to look at the rest of my life as an adventure. It is so much more fun and interesting that way.

    7. Dan O'Neil on March 10th, 2008 1:59 am

      I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for simply ages and I’m definitely going to get it now. I think it’s really great to watch, as you call it, “mindless” movies and to make links to things like being the hero in your own life. These films are exciting and it’s genuinely possible to create the same excitement feelings in your own life and to live as though you are your own hero. It’s a lovely idea and I’m really glad I came across your post. Thanks, Dan O’Neil.

    8. Steve Olson on March 10th, 2008 5:34 am

      I like your analogy. This morning my phone rang at the office just as I was arriving. I picked it up and it was my 5-year-old son sobbing. He said he was sad because he didn’t see me before I left for the office. Most days we spend 15 minutes together before I leave for work, but since we had Daylight Savings over the weekend he didn’t wake up in time this morning, so instead of waking him, I let him sleep in.

      I guess I didn’t realize how important those fifeteen minutes were to him. If I can be a hero in anyone’s life, I hope it will be my son’s. Having kids is hard work, but it is life changing in ways I never imagined.

    9. Steve Olson on March 10th, 2008 5:37 am

      One more thing…

      I love that verse from Wish You Were Here.

      Trade your heroes for ghosts? Is that another way to say… stop living in the past?

    10. Ron on March 12th, 2008 6:10 pm

      WoW! Just Stumbled you Ed and was amazed at this awesome post of yours. I’ve been reducing my blog reading lately but just cannot pass up subsribing to yours.

    11. Edward Mills on March 12th, 2008 8:00 pm

      Karen: I love that quote also. I don’t remember much from that movie (even though it was quite good) but that quote has stayed with me all this time.

      Patricia: Looking at life as an adventure makes it so much more fun and exciting, even during those rough moments (especially then).

      Dan: You’re right on. I’ve been watching fewer and fewer movies – gave up TV years ago – but every time I do watch one, there’s some lesson for me.

    12. Edward Mills on March 12th, 2008 8:06 pm

      Steve: My heart hears you! I leave early a couple of mornings each week and don’t get to see my daughter. Sometimes she’ll call and leave a message saying “I miss you Dada.” It’s so hard balancing our needs with their’s. Not sure that there is any “right” answer. But I agree with you that being a parent is hard, life-changing work. And I wouldn’t give it up for an instant!

      And great point about the Pink Floyd verse. I hadn’t made that connection. But, year, that’s it. Heroes don’t live in the past. They make decisions and take actions based on what is best right now, not what might have made sense long ago!

    13. Edward Mills on March 12th, 2008 8:08 pm

      Ron: Welcome to ET. Glad that you found it and glad to hear that you’ll be adding it to you reader. Hopefully I won’t add too much to your information intake!

    14. Asia'h Epperson on April 10th, 2008 10:22 pm

      I read this article and think for quite sometimes. It is so true that sometimes we have fear and can’t really excel ourselves.

      And your article really make me think about my life so far. Thanks for the post.

    15. Becky on May 8th, 2008 6:26 am

      nice post, i like to think of myself as a wannabe hero in my own life….it also reminds me of another quote: “life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”- helen keller

    16. Colorado Lasik Surgery Guide on May 12th, 2008 12:47 am

      It is so true…. We can be a hero in my own life. It really depends on do we want to be or not.

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