May 21, 2015
Katie KuckelheimOnce upon a time, there were heroes. Many heroes. From all places and all times. Some of these heroes you know well. They all reside within the fiction we watch and read. According to Joseph Campbell, the author of the book A Hero with a Thousand Faces, all great heroes share 5 things at the beginnings of their stories.
The first step to any departure in a hero’s journey is the call to adventure. This call is an extraordinary event very different from the character’s everyday life. This event throws the character into a role where they have to go on a quest to save or gain something or someone. After this event, nothing will be the same. This is when Katniss volunteers as tribute, when the Ring is given to Frodo, and when the Dursley’s house is literally flooded with letters for Harry Potter. Believe it or not, we have all heard the call to adventure. Our first call to adventure was when our parents told us we were going to a magical land, which was actually called The Early Learning Center where we were in big, colorful rooms filled with letter people. After this, we were never the same again.
The second step to any departure in a hero’s journey is for the hero to refuse the call to adventure. The hero does not want to accept that he or she must leave the life they know so well. They give excuses why they can’t go on the adventure they are called to. This is when Luke Skywalker first refuses to be a Jedi, when Sully and Mike Wazowski try to avoid Boo, and when Charlie doesn’t get a Golden Ticket from his first Wonka Bar. Before our first day of school, we were excited to go on a new journey. However, when we woke up the next morning, we could not help but to cling to the legs of mom and dad. We didn’t want to go into the huge brick building and learn about numbers and letter people! We just didn’t want our world to change. In high school we all remember those days we couldn’t get out of bed. At school we were challenged academically and after school some of us were challenged in a sport, a music ensemble, or a club. And on top of all of that we had the drama of break ups, hurt feelings, and criticisms. High school was hard. Today is about celebrating those times we were knocked down and we picked ourselves up. Despite the refusal of the call, we still took the journey.
Katie KuckelheimThe third step to any departure in a hero’s journey is the emergence of a guardian or a token that will aid the hero on their journey. This protector or token will give the character the confidence to go on the journey. This is Timone and Pumba to Simba, the Fairy Godmother to Cinderella, and Mushu to Mulan. To us, this has been our parents, teachers, and mentors. They have affected our lives so greatly and deserve to be recognized and thanked today of all days. They were the ones who picked us up, wiped our tears, told us it will be okay, turned on Spongebob, handed us a poptart, then put us on the big yellow school bus.
The fourth step to any departure in a hero’s journey is they must cross a threshold. This is when a character steps into a whole new, strange place filled with the unknown and potential dangers. This is when Dorothy finds herself in Oz, when Rapunzel leaves her tower, and when Rick Grimes walks out of the hospital into a zombie infested world. This is when we first stepped into our very first classroom. This is when we stepped into the middle and high school. I remember being in the lunch room on my first day of freshman year where I wondered: What do I eat? Where do I sit? How did everyone get so tall? We dreaded the unknown and longed for the excitement. If you didn’t already notice, we are upon a threshold today.
Katie KuckelheimThe fifth and final step to any departure in a hero’s journey is the character must go into the belly of the beast and be reborn. This final event completes the character who is now ready for the journey they must face. This is when Jonah is swallowed by the whale, when Woody and Buzz are trapped inside Sid’s house, and when Shrek agrees to save Fiona from the tower. Before we all knew it, our many years at Kenston flew by. I still remember when we played star wars on those scooters in gym class, when Mr. Barrett got duct taped to the wall, and when everyone wanted a quarter in 3rd grade so they could buy a color changing pencil. I still remember my time in Chicago, 7th grade camp, and the D.C. trip. I remember intramurals and taking home the baby for 8th grade health class. In high school I remember November 11, 2011 at 11:11, the drum out for Dr. Lee, and the football team winning the last CVC. Without knowing it, we became just as much a part of Kenston as Kenston was to us. Each story is one tree in the forest of memories we made at Kenston. It has taken us all these years in the belly of the beast to emerge ready for whatever journey we have chosen to set out on. All of our years at Kenston pay off today.
When we walk across this stage and we are handed our diplomas, this story ends. Tomorrow when we wake up, we are not waking up to same world we’ve been in. What we’re waking up to is our new call to adventure. This call tells us it is now our time to take our journey that will change everything about us. We may not realize it now, but we are the heroes of our own journeys. Let’s get out there, the journey is waiting.