The Wilderness Story is all stories
You and I may think, in the depths of our Wilderness Passage, that the ordeal we’re undergoing is unique. And it is, in the sense that our passage is ours alone; no one else has ever, or will ever, go through the same initiation.
But in a far deeper sense, all Wilderness passages are the same. The Wilderness Story is all stories.
Every book, every movie, every legend, every myth is a wilderness story. They are all about a character or group of characters who are estranged or cast out from some aspect of their deeper selves.
The Christ story is a wilderness story. It even has Jesus literally in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil. Buddha’s story is a wilderness story. Muhammad’s. Krishna’s. Pick any spiritual saga or myth. At bottom, they’re all wilderness stories.
Every vision quest is a wilderness story. Every legend, every myth. The Odyssey, the story of King Arthur, of Theseus, of Siegfried, of Buffalo Wallow Woman.
Every Western is a wilderness story, every love story, every gangster saga, every Zombie Apocalypse.
War and Peace is a wilderness story. As is Beloved, Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Augie March.
The Godfather (at least I and II) is a wilderness story. So is Top Gun (both versions) and Chinatown and Casablanca and The Wild Bunch and Alien and Avatar (both versions.).
Songs and albums. Hotel California is a wilderness story, along with Revolver and Pet Sounds and Beggars Banquet, not to mention Fight the Power, Straight Outta Compton and Mind Playing Tricks on Me.
The point I’m trying to make is that if you and I are in the midst of a wilderness passage, painful as it may be, it may help us to remember that we are living out a universal passage that humankind has been enacting for hundreds of thousands of years.
Every story is a wilderness story.
P.S. My story of my own passage through the wilderness—GOVT CHEESE: A Memoir—was just published a few days ago (in hardback, eBook, and audiobook), 1/30 to be exact. Signed first editions can still be ordered at www.stevenpressfield.com.