The idea of the heroes journey and it's relation to how we see ourselves, and stories we tell is a stroke of brilliance.
What we see is not real. There is a real world we are looking at, but at a physical level it can be argued that we cannot see the whole of the physical world. A dog has less color receptors than me, and I have less color receptors than a deep sea fangly fish. I am slightly color blind, which means shades of green and red look grey and white. Some people experience protective synesthesia, where they see color when a sense is stimulated. People like taking psychedelics because it changes the things they see and changes the way that they perceive things. Many forms of damaging the senses exist, and damages to the way that these senses interact with the brain exist in many ways. When it comes to the question of "what is real" the first question we need to ask is "how does my perception change what I think is real".
Perception is the only thing we have to figure out the world around us. We are faced with the cruelty of a chaotic world that makes no sense because nature doesn't work with a plan in mind. Trees have a biological reason for growing, we have no evidence that at the meeting of trees they decided it was their duty to grow plenty so there are homes for birds, air for life, and shade. Trees give these things but there was no plan for things. People give meaning to events that are meaningless. And we create this meaning from stories we tell.
Here is the part that stumps me, because I was introduced to European thinkers that had thoughts on dreams and the dream world, but I can't find the references yet. So for now, lets talk about stories. I findfascinating because it's not something I found familiar. I find connections between ADHD, bipolar, autism, and OCD, and it seems that this might because of where they are thought to exist in the brain. There is something in DID I find familiar, but it took me a while to pinpoint what. DID talks about littles, protectors, et al living in a system. To me, DID seems to dissociate internally, connecting trauma, thoughts and emotions to people and a voice that are in them, but when I stress I dissociate onto others. I not only see myself as the protagonist of my own story, but I have ways of describing myself, to myself. I was born and raised in the woods of Vermont, with barely any access to televised media. I am a sharp and intelligent person who is creative, can speak eloquently and know some words of other languages, I can speak on logic and mathematics and biology. I struggle with my place in the world and how to make the most of it for me. I have friends that reflect these things, and I see these things in some or all of them. When I am stressed about forces in this life, like the looming shadow of death and taxes, all I can see in my friends is myself. I cannot see them for the people who have another life with their own values, experiences and moral codes. They are me, but are themselves.
We tell stories, and not all stories are about a hero who saves the day. We tell stories about the villain, and these stories contain the things we find negative. The villain is someone who acts on the wrong impulses. The villain is Faust who becomes tempted by the devil, they are Darth Vader being guided by his fear and anger, they are that self centered bitch Briana at work who is always being a pain in my ass and is constantly acting for herself and her bitch friends. When I am stressed or anxious or frustrated, I see my negatives reflected in the people around me. There is usually no deeper meaning to these reflections, because these are reflections of human nature, or a flaw I see in myself. I see my lack of focus, organization, and communication of my pain in others because these things may exist as my coping mechanisms, and others are coping to different problems using the same tools. Or we might all be reacting to the same stimuli that exists in the real world, but our emotional perceptions and coping mechanisms are different, causing us to act differently and different is bad. Different is the antagonist. Empathy is realizing that others exist with inner pain and joy separate from our own. Goals and fears that might not be ours, turning into motivations and reasons that we cannot understand. In myself, I struggle with the idea that my motivations are not pure, and I do things for selfish gain, not for the good of all. And I tell myself a story where I am the villain. And I recognize that others don't act in a way that is moral or right, and that they stand directly in the way of my goals. So I tell stories where they are the villain.
There is the trickster's tale, a story of a clever protagonist getting one over on unsuspecting authority. One upping the boss man and proving that we, the supposed lesser, actually have the leverage and power. Loki the trickster exists as the center of some stories, but he doesn't always act for the good of the group. Can we trust the chaotic neutrals, because they sometimes do the right thing, but we cannot always agree with the reasons. We have stories of tragedy and comedy, both pointing out the sorrow and humor of the world. In stories like MASH or Catch-22, there might barely be a point or end goal to the story, the heroes and their existence are there to remind of us of the hopelessness of the world. We have stories of Justice and Retribution, stories of romance, stories of failure and happiness. We and our friends can be the protagonists of these stories, but we are not always the moral center of the story, and we struggle with the idea that we are not always motivated by good intentions. We are not always motivated in the correct way, because we are more than a character in a story. We are human, and human is a complex stew of emotion and experiences in a world that we don't understand but are trying desperately to make sense of before it eats us alive. We act for the good of ourselves, friends and community, but sometimes we act on emotion in a way that doesn't fit a structure. This structure gives us meaning. Gives us hope and love and a future to look forward to. Because otherwise there is no meaning, and we get lost in the swamps of sorrow.
These stories are not us though, these stories are told by the emotions and feelings we have. This statement is not a useful statement because not all emotions are caused by something we can control. A toxic person in my life who only exists to point out the flaws and negativity in the world can be thrown away. A flaw in my perception in the world and how this flaw causes negative emotions is a different beast. My ADHD cause me to focus on small things and makes me lose sight of a bigger picture. This woman is speaking to me, telling me what is in her heart and mind but I can feel like something is off. The medication helps me zoom out, so I'm looking at the way she speaks, and dresses, and acts. Sometimes I missed something, and it was something on a subconscious level that bothered me. Most of the time I was really just missing the other details in the rest of the big picture, and missed the truth in front of me. This thing in my head can cause me to focus too long on a problem and not eat, and hunger changes my mood. I get tired, others get cranky, and we let our emotions talk to each other, and say things that aren't always true.
I tell this to others, and I always say "take your medication". But where are the stories we tell ourselves coming from? My hunger stops me from thinking things through, and I take offense to things not directed at me. My exhaustion keeps me from speaking in full sentences, and I'm only able to speak in short bursts. They are separate from my ADHD, which wonders why my physical environment is a mess, why my brain won't stop thinking, and why my clothes smell like I haven't changed in 3 days. When my hunger speaks, I feed it, when my exhaustion speaks I rest, and when my ADHD acts up I reflect on why, then hit it with exercise or medication.
Whose voices tell you stories, and are they always heroes stories? Are you a trickster, someone else's villain, or are you caught in romance that struggles against unseen forces in the world.