Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

April, 1999


Joseph Campbell defined the hero's journey as one of going into the unknown, facing one's dragons, slaying them, integrating the experience and returning to one's home to share the benefits with the people.

Every one of us is a hero, yet we do not give ourselves credit for our heroic achievements.

The process of birth is one of the most heroic journeys anyone can undertake. We leave the cozy and comfortable life in the womb by going through the stressfully tight birth canal, only to end up in a blindingly bright and coldly dry world of this life on earth. The experience is traumatic and frightening. We even cry. Yet we manage to do it in spite of our fears. We slay this dragon and integrate this process until we are comfortably living in our mother's bosom.

Not before long, we embark upon another heroic journey. That of rising up on our hind legs. We let go of our comfortingly stable four legged means of locomotion, we try to rise up, and fall numerous times. Yet in spite of all the pain and the frightening heights, we slay that dragon too and master the delicate art of balancing ourselves on our two legs. We integrate this process and become even more mobile than before.

This process goes on and on. Our first day at school, our first vacation, the first time we move our home, the first vacation without our family, the first job, the first major project for which we are responsible, our first business, our second business, and the list goes on and on.

Yet on every occasion we feel the pangs of fear. We are imprisoned by the claws of the dragon that we face, while we try to release ourselves from its clutch. How much easier it would have been had we never faced that dragon. How much more comfortable...

Somehow it seems that nobody can be immune from the heroic processes of life. No matter how standard or sheltered a life we have lived, often life forces us into a heroic situation. If it is not a business or a project, it may be a debilitating accident, a terminal disease, a natural calamity or an act of God that befalls us. It is as if life itself demands us to live a heroic life, or else vanish into non-existence. In the bigger picture, it seems that life itself is the heroic journey.

So whether we like to be a hero or not, we are, simply because we are alive.

And as if this were not enough, death itself is a fitting and heroic conclusion to life. It is a journey of leaving the comfortable and habitual spaces of the known, to enter the dark forest of the after-life, embark upon the unknown and face the dragon of our final fears.

And who knows, perhaps enter yet another blindingly bright and coldly dry world, until we integrate it and peacefully rest in the bosom of our Mother.

Shahriar Shahriari
Vancouver, Canada
April 1999

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