On Thanksgiving Day 1988, PBS ran the entire 6-part series “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth” in a single afternoon. As a young man, curious about the meaning of life—my life—I sat transfixed.
Campbell was a teacher and writer on myth. In the series, he shared myths from around the world and the archetypal themes that permeate all cultures and traditions. One of the main topics was sacrifice as an essential part of the initiation into adulthood. It’s the hero’s journey and we’re all called to it.
The impact on me was huge. As a young man, I wondered, “Am I on a hero’s journey?” “Have I been initiated?” “Am I a man?” Those reflections started an emotional and spiritual journey that I’m still on.
If I had not stumbled across the series that Thanksgiving, I wonder who’d I’d be today. Almost certainly, COR would not be the same life-affirming, rite-of-passage community that it is. In fact, the leadership team at COR just spent three evenings watching the “Power of Myth” together. It was a blessing for me to share Campbell’s teachings on myth with our COR team. We all left inspired.
The themes of sacrifice and growing up struck me as particularly relevant for us today. At COR, we propose we are most happy when our life is turned into an act of self-donating love. This is when we really grow up.
I think of the men and women who come to staff COR workshops, to take a stand for the healing of friends, family, brothers, sisters and mostly people they don’t even know. To take time off work, to travel, and to stand in the emotional fire in the name of all of us growing up a bit more—that’s sacrifice. And it’s growing up too. That’s why most people tell us that staffing is even more powerful than attending a workshop as a participant.
Honestly, I think much of the suffering in the world today is because men—specifically men—don’t learn how to sacrifice and consequently we don’t grow up. Women’s bodies initiate them into sacrifice. They have a monthly visceral reminder of the cost of growing up. If you’ve ever attended a childbirth, the sacrifice and courage are apparent.
Men have to choose sacrifice. We are invited to grow up. And often it isn’t modeled for us. I put myself in that lot too.
Most of the time when I’ve stepped into the best version of myself it’s because I’ve sacrificed. I’ve “spent myself for a worthy cause” as Teddy Roosevelt said. When I haven’t, it’s often been because fear wins out, or pride, or self-involvement.
In this month of August, we’re looking at this theme of sacrifice and growing up. We’ll be sharing stories of the cost, and ultimately the rewards, of growing up! I invite you to consider what you are being invited to let go of—to sacrifice—in order to grow up and be happier. Share it with us. We’ll support you.
All the best,