An Accident Waiting to Happen
At Poets and Writers for Avery, Andy Thibault described Wally Lamb as an accidental novelist and an accidental activist. In many ways, it seems that Avery is an accidental activist as well.
As Wally spoke about his writing he talked about one writing teacher telling him there are no new stories and it is best to go back to the stories that have lasted through time, myths, because they contain the compelling elements of the stories we still need to hear to today.
Joseph Campbell, borrowing the word ‘Monomyth’ from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, talks about these compelling elements in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. Perhaps that is part of what is so compelling about Avery’s story. It isn’t just an issue about defending our basic freedom of speech, it is following the hero’s journey very nicely.
The monomyth starts with the hero’s call to adventure. The hero perceives a threat to the community, such as the threat to our basic rights, or simply stumbles into the adventure, such as using the word ‘douchebag’ in a personal blog, to set of the whole adventure.
Often, the hero is reluctant to take up the adventure or continue the adventure. The great adventures always seem so improbable. The hero is often asked to do something that seems impossible. This is important. If the hero goes out and wins what appeared to be a sure fire victory in the first place, then it doesn’t seem that heroic. There needs to be the possibility of loss, even significant loss. There needs to be fear of such a loss, but a girding up of the loins and a willingness to take up the challenged based on a belief that what the hero is doing is right.
Another part of the hero’s journey is the supernatural aid that the hero receives. These days that aid might come in the form of a community of supporters gathering around the hero, the way we did at Poets and Writers for Avery. As a community, we do not have any magical amulets to provide. However, with the sense of poetic justice, the Internet, which helped initiate the call to action, is also a tool to gather the community of supporters and I hope will be a sort of magical amulet.
Then, there is the return of the hero. The hero, upon returning from the adventure helps those around her by bestowing knowledge gained from the adventure. This is happening as Avery gets a chance to tell her story to people in schools, in the media and in daily life.
Perhaps this is where the real magic and power of Avery’s hero journey is hidden. We read the myths of old. We see them as they get portrayed today in movies. However, we all, too often forget that the heroes of these stories were regular people just like you and I. We are all potential heroes, waiting for our call to adventure, for our accidents to happen.