I recently watched (thanks to Netflix streaming- but this is also available in local libraries, can be ordered from various online sources, and is posted on Youtube) a documentary film called Mythic Journeys.
In a time when media and sometimes society as a whole seems to be awash in “much ado about nothing” it offered a refreshing take on the basic concepts of literature and the role it could/should play in our lives. This 2009 award winning documentary got me thinking not only about the power of storytelling as a unifying cultural force but also about how often that we as adults deny that power.
Many of us tend to leave mythological tales to the dim recesses of childhood or leave untouched volumes in the far corner of the bookcase but how often do we revisit them when we are seeking wisdom, solace, or guidance in are own lives? How often do we as a society actively work not just to consider the stories that exist but work (in some small way) to craft our own; pause to consider how fundamental and necessary sharing stories is to the health and well-being of humanity?
The creativity of myths have given us so much; sparked the human imagination to help us craft new futures and yet, as the film points out, seems oddly muted today. Stories help us to ask questions and explore possibilities; they help give the experiences in our lives substance; create a basis for a common dialogue; enrich our communities; can make us laugh or feel a sense of wonder or marvel at others cleverness .
Maybe we should all reacquaint ourselves with myth. Perhaps as Joseph Campbell once said we should all, “Sit in a room and read–and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”