Photo Credit: TK via Unsplash
A nostalgic reflection about finding your own “hero’s journey”
Vlad Zamrii, Contributor
With the spooky, mystery-filled season of Halloween rapidly approaching, I started looking through old photo albums of my different costumes through the years, in hopes of finding inspiration for this coming October. Flipping through the pages of different years and costumes, I found myself getting excited over the characters I once adored as a child. From the years I spent impersonating Gotham’s dark knight, Batman, to the years I played the part of New York City’s web-slinging hero, Spider-Man, and finally, the time I channelled my inner Ryan Reynolds and took on the costume of loveable anti-hero Deadpool, the good memories and my rich childhood imagination started to take over and made me question many things about my inner child’s dreams.
I asked myself, what is it that makes a hero so intriguing? I remember I often would daydream and recreate the adventures of my favourite characters during recess, not knowing exactly why I was so drawn into the lives of these completely made-up, yet awesome characters. Looking back at these memories, more and more questions started invading my train of thoughts: Why do we look up to certain heroes and heroines as children? Why do we attempt to mimic their actions in our day-to-day lives? Do they have something in common we are all unconsciously searching for? I wondered, do the answers to all these questions simply lie in their intricate colourful costumes, flowing capes, and futuristic gadgets? Maybe, but I choose to think there is something beyond their extravagant spandex costumes and zapping ray guns that give them a certain level of intricacy and inspiration.
As young children, we are often encouraged to dream big and look beyond our day-to-day lives to find new realms for our imaginations to explore. Heroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and Disney princesses like Rapunzel and Moana, display exemplary role models of an adventurous human spirit, a spirit we as young children adore and embody in every single one of our playground games and Halloween costumes. Growing up, I feel I have lost this ability to dream, to a certain extent. However, through evaluating my fascination with these characters, I believe I have put a spin on how I view my daily life as a student and as a young adult. I believe the answer to these questions that have been pondering in my head lies within a singular common denominator, known as “the hero’s journey.” We all have learned about the hero’s journey in our introductory literature classes in high school, but how often do we stop and think of our own journeys, paths in life, and destinies as heroes of our life stories? You may stop me right here and say, “Well I have a plan for my courses, or my summer job, and for this, and for that, and for blah blah blah,” but that is not what a hero’s journey is. A hero’s journey does not contain any planning, it merely lies within a calling. It can be anything, anything at all. From painting, to dancing, to singing, to skydiving, to pottery, anything at all. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched it may seem, think of a daydream you had as a child. Ask yourself questions like why you had this daydream. What did you feel like at that moment? How did you look? What powers did you have?
I dreamt of scaling walls like my long-time idol Peter Parker (aka our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man) as a child. I could be anywhere from sitting at the back of one of my classes, to playing with my friends at lunch break, or even sleeping soundly at night, yet the constant replaying of me as Spider-Man took reign over any other of my thoughts. Of course, I am not saying I am going to strap on a pair of web slingers and start scaling the skyscrapers of downtown Toronto, however, what I am saying is to find something that makes you feel like the hero you once wished to be. For me, I found this calling in fitness (to be strong and agile like my idols), in art (to be able to portray my ideas as I once saw them in comic books), and finally, in writing (to bring the heroes, who live in my mind, to life).
So, as this Halloween season passes, don’t be so quick to hang up the cape as soon as November rolls around. Keep it handy and keep it close until you find a fit replacement for it. I urge you to look through old childhood photos, old Halloween costumes, and old journals you kept and find the key to making your younger self proud. Once you find this passion, or calling, or whatever it may be, never let it go. Instead, remember what our old friend Spider-Man’s uncle Ben once said, “with great power comes great responsibility,” as there is no power or responsibility greater than an individual with the potential to create beauty, love, and change in our world. Be your own hero!