As I recall it, the saying goes that those of us who meet with a higher than usual level of excitement, drama, challenges, and plain misfortune, have been chosen by the gods to live the life of a hero.
This makes sense, the hero of a tale has to have disruptive things happen to them, often for unknown or random reasons, for without those events unfolding they would not be a Hero, merely a person. The trials and vicissitudes they face and endure, reveal them as heroes, uncovering previously hidden characteristics and strengths; in fact often the adventures shape and develop the traits of the hero, thus proving the making of them. They must necessarily endure and solve the puzzling scenarios in some way, for if they were instead overcome by them they would not be the Hero, but the Victim.
Those marked out by the Fates, or whatever other names we give to our versions of divine providence, have little choice but to run with their destiny. A Hero who stays at home, trying to hide from drama, may well find it played out at a domestic level.
All of us, at some level, are of course heroes. But we all know someone who fits this description of (or might even recognise ourselves as) a Hero. The type of person who often says, ‘Why does this kind of thing always happen to me?!’ to which the answer is, because you are the kind of person who will notice ‘this kind of thing’, who does not pass it on to another as not your business, and who cannot ignore.
Where a Victim cries Help!, a Hero sees a chance to act.
We all play both roles at different times, in fact often a turning point of a quest type story is when the Hero has to accept their vulnerability and an offer of assistance during a moment of inertia in the plot, whether from a small animal or similarly initially unlikely seeming source. Understanding empathetically why Heroes are essential to a plot can only happen if you have switched at least once between active agent, to passive recipient. Help with compassion has more impact than mere help. The fundamental difference in the persona of the Hero (compared to Victim) is a sense of agency in the world, of having the ability to affect change themselves, whether alone or with others. Power to cause change in the world.
It must be said , that the hero of the Hollywood pantheon does not always make for a sympathetic role model. An hour and a half only allows for weak character development, and the Hero is often portrayed as uncaring (for whatever reason), reckless, and at the end of the story he (occasionally she) tends to find redemption (through the medium of romantic encounter) and reach an end of their (necessarily) visually spectacular adventure. Hollywood heroes are generally unattached loners, and in this regard they fail our needs to act as examples of how to deal successfully with the geasa put upon us. Because, we have friends, families, and other things going on in our lives. As such we can oft times remain blind to our Heroic natures, as we are normal, well adjusted, so cannot (in this mundane frame of reference) be Heroic…
Many choose to perform their heroics in the explicit frame of role playing games, from D&D to LARP, or in their job of work, in a community position, as voices of causes. Others have less public Heroic settings, acting as the unsung Hero, providing words or deeds in private which change the worlds of those close to them.
However, playing with the Chaotic Magick of paradigm adoption, we can enter into the reality of a mythos of our own lived experiences, take on the mantle of the Hero, act effectively, then laugh at our game so we can return to the important business of washing up, spending time pleasantly with friends, or making the tea.
If you know a Hero, perhaps consider saying thank you to them. If you are one, you have my sympathy, but I am afraid there is nothing I can do to remove the Doom placed upon you. All I can do is remind you that you are not alone, and to suggest you step out of the set now and then, so you can see that other characters are available.
Although as we know, Heroes never really retire. The urge to say yes to adventure, calls unceasingly.
Those interested in immersing themselves further into the psychological paradigm of the Hero could do worse than check out Joseph Campbell’s works on mythological comparison, whilst donning a strong filter to cope with the chauvanisms of when they were written.