The inspiration for this workshop was drawn from an activity I did with my students last semester. I was teaching a geography class to fourth and fifth graders - I asked each student to imagine him or herself as a superhero: What is your superhero name? What are your powers? What is your backstory - how did you get to be who you are? How are you going to use your powers to help the world?
We became The Global Heroes! (sorta like Captain Planet, but automatically cooler since my kids were involved.)
I noticed however that even though I encouraged my students to choose powers that fit their personalities and strengths (for example, I was an empath), most of them decided they had "Everything Power": the ability to use any and all the powers without limitation. They all wanted to be invincible.
When I told one of my mythologist friends about the project, he replied "They missed the point - who wants to read about someone with Everything Power? That's boring. Every hero has to have a wound, some kind of trauma, dark side, or secret weakness...."
Following that theme, I decided to host a Mythical Writing Workshop exploring the hero's wound, the internal and external scars we carry, buried trauma, the crippling blows we may encounter on our quest, the weaknesses hidden beneath our armor, and the inner pain that may fuel our heroism.
The first free-write was in response to this image:
All sides attacked, penetrated by blades sticking in all directions, yet somehow he still stands. I imagine him to be saying "Come on, what else you got? It's not like one more is really going to make a difference." He seems incredibly nonchalant considering the number of swords sticking out of him.
But does that composure come at a price? I imagine it does, since I feel the same way. Another piercing, just when I thought maybe it was over or at least I would get to remove some of these swords - or at least get to see a doctor - before the next one came flying at me. But neither can I imagine a life without wounds, or the scars that remain when you have shaken off the sticks and stones and knives from your body.
And I wonder too at what point it remains more comfortable to just leave them alone, to keep in the blade that impaled you, because that's easier than bleeding to death.