Marvel has just announced a slew of movies for the next five years. Featuring the next part of the Avengers series to stories of never-been-featured characters, the next years will surely be exciting for fans of epics and superhero movies. Did you know that no matter the name, the background, the costume nor the superpower, heroes in movies or books are in reality molded from a single prototype? Joseph Campbell, in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, endeavored to trace what he calls the monomyth or “the hero’s journey” by studying thousands of epics and hero stories from different cultures throughout the arc of history.
Every hero story starts in the hero’s ordinary world. The hero goes on doing what he normally does, until he receives a call to adventure – a challenge, a cry for help or a personal quest. Then he departs and embarks on a journey to an unknown world. At this juncture, the hero faces several trials, which he conquers one by one, till he reaches the ultimate challenge. At this point, the hero encounters difficulties that push him to the brink of defeat. But, the hero recovers and defeats the enemy. In his victory, the hero receives a recognition and, then, returns to his world. Upon his return, the hero enjoys a better life and a stronger character, fortified by his ordeals and forged by conquered trials.
Imagine the new-age heroes, like Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. Their stories follow the same pattern, though rendered unique by auxiliary characters and interpretation. The hero’s journey myth exists in every culture and constantly evolves, because we humans “reflect on our world through symbolic stories of our own lives”. Heroic characters are not only found in the great literatures of the world, they are among us every day, and even in us.
Closer to home, engineers working at temporary power plants are heroes in their own right. They are deployed to disaster-stricken countries or perilous areas to complete a job, and they willingly march on to heed the call of duty. When they arrive at the location, they are faced with numerous operational, logistical and technical challenges that push the envelope of engineering ingenuity.
When the power stations are installed, they confront the reality of putting them on to start supplying electricity to the area. When the power plants are finally operational, the fulfillment of completing a job and serving thousands of people represents their reward and recognition, after all the trials that they, in the end, conquered and surmounted.
After decommissioning the plants, the engineers go back to their bases changed men and women, better informed and ever more confident of the vocation they chose to pursue.
As Joseph Campbell once said: “In the cave one fears to enter, lies the treasure one seeks.” Each of us has a “cave” – be it a job interview, an examination, being away from family or being deployed to far-reaching areas. We have to listen to our personal calls to adventure, accept the challenge, conquer our fears and claim our treasures. At the end of every adventure, we will come out as more creative designers, more innovative engineers, more talented singers, more graceful dancers… better human beings, ready to do it all over again.
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