The Hero Within
But First, Smallville
I’ve been on a major Smallville kick lately.
Smallville, Superman, Tom Welling… oh man! 😍
This is actually the second time that I’ve watched Smallville from the beginning. The first time was in high school, and it just reeled me in like nothing else. It was kind of the highlight of my week, and I would move heaven and earth to make sure I was by a TV every Thursday night! (DVR wasn’t really a thing yet unfortunately.)
Eventually Smallville ended, life went on, and it retreated to more distant areas of my awareness, as beautiful things sometimes do...
A couple weeks ago though, I saw something random (or synchronistic) that led me to finding it on Hulu and rewatching the pilot, and holy shit… all of those memories and all of the love that I had for that show came rushing back tenfold. Even typing that sentence just now I literally felt my heart expand, like there’s just something so beautiful and special about that show and the idea of Superman that I can’t really put it into words… but my heart feels it.
It’s such a strong way to feel about a TV show — I get that. 😜
Objectively, it is kind of weird or interesting or something that I feel such a resonance with this particular show, with this idea, with this concept of Superman... so why? Why do I feel such a strong connection? Why is it so powerful for me? Why do I feel it in my heart so deeply that it wants to come out of my chest?
Surely it can’t only be because of Tom Welling! 🔥😂🙈
The Hero’s Journey
Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve come to two main conclusions.
The first one is the more obvious interpretation, the one where I’ve been raised as a woman in a society full of stories about knights in shining armor saving damsels and distress — and as much as I cringe thinking of myself as this little helpless damsel, I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t some amount of residual programming in me that gets off on that.
From an archetypal perspective, the damsel ultimately needs to find her own empowerment so she can save herself and not need to depend on anything outside of herself for her own survival or happiness. Until she does this, she’s living the shadow side of the damsel archetype, feeling all helpless and dependent and in need of protection (or validation or love or whatever the case may be).
It’s only when she discovers that everything she needs is within herself that she grows out of the damsel and into the hero.
Which leads me to the second conclusion about my current Superman obsession, and this is the one that really hits home for me:
It’s about finding the hero within.
Sure, there’s a small unhealed part of me that wouldn’t mind being saved from a burning building by Superman, but a much larger part of me knows that I am Superman. (Or Superwoman or whatever.) We all are!
Everyone has their own hero’s journey that they came here to experience, and there’s as much variety in these journeys as there are humans on the planet. In the case of Clark Kent, the series starts out with him in high school, not really fitting in or knowing where he belongs in the world. All he knows is that he’s different — none of the other kids in high school can lift tractors or run faster than a speeding bullet — but he doesn’t know why he’s different, or who he’ll become, or how to get there. He’s just doing his best to figure it out along the way, like all of us.
That’s where I feel like I’m at right now. I get the feeling that I have something special to offer the world, but I don’t really know what it is yet (although I have some loosely formed ideas)... I just know I’m here for a reason — and I get the feeling that that reason involves helping people.
So I’m doing my best to figure out my shit and learn what I can, and that’s all part of the journey, but at the end of the day I know I’m going to find what I’m searching for inside myself. The books and the healing and the figuring stuff out is great and a necessary part of it, but ultimately it all leads me back to… well, me. To what’s within me, within you, within all of us — our inner hero. It’s always within.
Hanuman Joins the Party
And now, a quick detour to ancient India, to the story of Hanuman. I’ve never actually read the Mahabharata, but I did learn about Hanuman and some of the other yogic deities and archetypes through some beautiful satsang experiences around the time of my first yoga teacher training. So there’s a lot more to Hanuman than I’m aware of, and if you google him you’ll find that his big things are devotion, strength, and absence of ego, which are all well and good — but what really hit me about his story is how he remembered his own inner power.
I’m probably going to kind of butcher this story, but basically he’s born with all these powers (like flying and being super strong… sound familiar?), but as a kid he’s cursed so he doesn’t remember that he has any powers. They’re still within him, but he doesn’t consciously realize it, and so he continues to live his life oblivious to how amazing and powerful he actually is. Then there’s some kind of battle going on where this beautiful woman named Sita has been taken hostage (apparently playing out the damsel in distress archetype 😂🤷🏻♀️), and it’s up to Hanuman to save the day. She’s heavily guarded on an island, and any chance of getting her back requires Hanuman to remember who he really is and embrace all of the powers that he has.
I’ve seen other versions of this story where at this point some other guy lifts the curse and that’s what makes Hanuman remember his inner power, but I prefer the version where Hanuman wants to help so much, with a desire that’s so selfless and pure, that he’s finally able to take a leap of faith and believe in himself — and that is what unblocks the curse and enables him to step fully into his power. So then he leaps across the water to the island, gets Sita, and the story continues on for thousands of more pages.
I remember when I heard this story for the first time, before it was even finished, something hit me in my heart and I started tearing up, because I found that I knew the rest of the story.
I knew Hanuman would rediscover his inner power — and I knew that on some level I was Hanuman.
I shed a lot of tears that evening — not of sadness, but of something a little harder to describe… it was this tragic kind of beauty about having so much light, love, power, strength, and wisdom within, but at the same time feeling too small, damaged, and inadequate to even be aware of it. The incredible disparity became clear.
It was in that moment that I started to regain access to an inner awareness that had been dormant for a very long time — my inner hero.
“Sacred remembrance” are the words coming to mind right now — this divine recollection that’s a totally sacred and necessary part of the hero’s journey, which each and every one of us is on.
We’re all on a hero’s journey.
We all incarnate with a blueprint of sorts — a series of intended experiences that together will form a beginning, middle, and end of our hero’s journey arc.
It doesn’t always seem that way, especially the beginning and middle parts of the journey where shit can feel pretty rough. But that struggle is part of what makes the journey and this life… worth living. If we knew the answers from day one, it wouldn’t be much of a journey. It would be kind of pointless.
This also makes me think of the wounded healer archetype that a lot of souls are playing out right now. As a “wounded healer,” we have the capacity to become really wise and help a lot of people, but in order for that to happen we usually need to go through a bunch of painful shit first. We need to get really wounded and hurt, so we learn how to transcend it and heal it by looking within… and then we’ll be in a place where we can actually help others.
And it won’t be because we’ve gone to school for 8 years and have a bunch of official certifications or degrees — it will be because we’ve been there — and believe me, that is what really matters to people who need help. Because people who have been there not only truly get what the other person is going through, but they understand that a true healer helps others find their own answers and healing within themselves.
It would be great if we could just know this universal truth from day one, but usually it takes some form of struggle and strife in order for us to finally look within and realize that we’ve got it all.
That’s not to say that we don’t need to go out and learn, experience, and be — that’s certainly part of the journey — but at the end of the day, everything we learn and do ends up pointing us back to the fact that it’s all within. It’s kind of a universal irony.
I think that’s why Smallville has been really hitting home for me lately, and why I feel so drawn to Hanuman, and also other stories with a similar theme like the golden Buddha — they’re all about rediscovering our inner hero.
Our inner hero, light, purpose, wisdom, awesomeness… it’s all within.
But until we remember that, it’s stories like this that light a divine spark in our hearts. We don’t even necessarily know why we’re drawn to them… but there’s a reason Superman was such a successful franchise, and it’s not just because of Clark Kent in tights — it’s because of that spark of hope. Hope that our own lives have a greater purpose, hope that there’s a larger reason behind all the suffering, and hope that we’re actually powerful beyond measure.
Until we recognize all those things as reality, stories like Superman, Hanuman, and the Golden Buddha ignite within us a powerful and profound sense of hope. They remind us of our true nature, our inner power… and the hero within.
We feel it deep in our hearts because it’s the fucking truth.
I think that’s why I got so into Smallville. I mean yeah, Tom Welling, but even more than that... It’s time to rediscover my inner hero.
And now here we are.
How about you? Is it time?