Swords Up


We watched epic movies together, and it felt like a journey and perhaps reminded us of our own Hero’s Journey.

During the years while the original movies were playing, this same group of close friends would chat via various messaging programs (texting wasn’t as cool back then) and it provided a way to connect. We would leave small words of encouragement, or check in when we knew one of the others were struggling.

But (yes it is a little goofy) we would also periodically change our picture or icon to represent one of the Lord of the Rings characters that resonated with us. When we knew that there were specific obstacles, resistance, or doubt one of us would type:

Swords Up!

And all the icons or pictures would change. They were the same characters, but this time wielding a sword.


As I drove home from my meeting the other day when the Lord of the Rings soundtrack was playing, I remembered those two words: Swords Up.


Those swords were a show of protection, defense, and willingness to fight alongside each other.

If Joseph Campbell is right, great stories are pretty much the same and give us a glimpse of the life we are capable of leading. And maybe, just maybe it is friends who are willing to put their Swords Up for and with you that make all the difference.

Thanks Friends, and for old times sake: Swords Up!


The Hero’s Journey

“Why should I watch these movies? How many hours are these? That is a lot of time to commit.”

“Yeah, I know. But there is something about it that seems important.”

Trying to explain the impact, importance, and the journey of watching a classic story like the Lord of the Rings trilogy to someone who has not read the books or viewed the 9 to 12 hours of movies can feel almost impossible.

However, this story follows Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey that makes up most the classic stories that seem to resonate with us. These are the stories that are told for generations.

Instead of trying to explain the Hero’s Journey, just watch this Short Video by Iskander Krayenbosch from Leiden, Netherlands. Nice work Iskander!

These stories begin with ordinary people being called out of an ordinary world, into a world that is large, filled with peril, and they are filled with doubt and fear. Ultimately, the hero overcomes fear and gets the reward, and is changed.

To make the case for watching these films, I sent a video along with one of the greatest moments of fear, doubt, peril, and ultimately triumph from a seemingly underrated hero.

In a strange coincidence, I was in a meeting within the next hour. During the meeting there was music playing in the background. Not just any music, but the soundtrack from the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings.

Somehow the memories, the journey, and the story was weaving its way into my day again. The music and memory cocktail made this meeting feel like the start of an epic story, with a hero that is being calling into a larger world, but will face doubts, fears, and setbacks, and ultimately will change the world and themselves in the process.

The handful of people I originally watched these movies with are still close and in my circle. We spent many hours together, and although didn’t actually go on that specific quest of trying to destroy a ring, have had quests of our own.

We felt ordinary.

We felt like we were thrust into a larger world.

We doubted ourselves.

We had setbacks.

We stood together.

We triumphed.

If Joseph Campbell was right, all great stories follow the same pattern. The resonance may be our own desire to live a story worth reading.

How will your story read?