For all four protagonists in the last documentary BEING THERE (website) who care about dying people, the beginning of their commitment to others was a profound external or internal event that spurred them on to action. This impulse can be described as a “call” that enabled them to “venture beyond local-historical boundaries to the universally valid human forms,” as the well-known myth researcher Joseph Campbell put it.
In his epochal work “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Joseph Campbell describes how individual “hero’s journeys” have contributed time and again to developing and shaping new inspirations for a better togetherness.
“The hero is … the human being – whether man or woman – who is able to venture beyond local-historical boundaries to the generally valid human forms. His visions, ideas and inspirations come unspoiled from the source of human life and thought.”
Joseph Campbell, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”
Following the observation from the film BEING THERE, I asked myself whether we first need crises in order to break new ground and discover new perspectives that are important for our own development and that of society.
What abilities can people develop when they – following their call – leave the familiar behind and embark on their journey into the unknown? Does this enable them to free themselves from stressful situations, patterns of thought and action and to find their inner self in an increasingly complex world? Can individual transformation processes also unfold social effects and provide answers to the challenges of major changes and life transitions?
These questions are central to the film PATHS OF LIFE. I accompanied four people in their search for answers. I asked them about their experiences in dealing with painful experiences and the associated transformation processes. The stories they share can be described as everyday. Joseph Campbell uses the term “hero”. Hero, however, does not mean the person who performs a “heroic deed”. Rather, Campbell means the person who is willing to hear his or her own call and follow it. The four protagonists could therefore all be us.