Throwback Week: Why Do We Relate to Epic Journeys?

I’ve been at this blogging thing for over a year. I thought it would be fun to turn back the hands of time and take a look at some of my posts from last year. The ones early on, which few people read.

That’s right. This is like receiving the keys to the secret chamber, where the hidden tales of blogging yore are stored.

Actually, my schedule is catching up to me, so in all honesty, this is my solution for not having a new post written. 😮

Don’t judge. I’ll get back to it next week.

In the meantime, I’m dubbing this Throwback Week. First up, epic journeys.


man travelingYou’ve been on a journey.

So have I.

So has everyone through the history of the world.

In fact, you’re on one right now. It might not be literal, such as traveling through Europe or flying cross-country on a business trip.

It might be as simple as finishing the day at work or studying for an upcoming test, but it’s still a journey.

Our lives are a huge tapestry of journeys.

  • Working through school
  • Growing up
  • Getting married
  • Moving to another country
  • Finding a job

We’re familiar with this journey-thing because it’s part of life.

Books Take Us On Journeys

That’s why we relate to stories.

Some are more epic than others, involving actual travel to new places. But even a story set in a single location—like a city—contains the journey of the main character. He or she wants to achieve something and faces obstacles along the way. They have a path and want to follow it.

So do we.

The stories we read are reflections of real life.

One of the most epic journeys in literature is the quest in Lord of the Rings. A tale about the journey of four homely hobbits. Pulled from their comfortable lives, they trek across the world hundreds of miles from home. Their physical journey becomes a representation of the many figurative and literal journeys we take.

Bag EndWhy do we have such a connection to stories like this? At its most basic, a quest is simple. Leave home. Follow that road. Do some stuff. Win the war. Go home.

We soak up the quest because in one way or another, it reflects the personal quests of our own lives. The hobbits meet enemies. They suffer hardships. They try, and fail.

But they also make new friends, see new places, and partake in victories.

Sound familiar?

Every person we meet is a walking story, whether we see it or not. Who hasn’t gone through a difficult time in life? Who hasn’t made new friends or celebrated a job well done?

In a way, when we read, we take the journey with the hobbits. We connect with them on a deeper level. Their story becomes our story. Their lives become our lives.

Bad things happen to the hobbits, but they manage to pull through. Because of the connection we have, their perseverance inspires us. We see them find hope in the midst of a trial and it encourages us to do the same.

And at the end of the day, we’ve not only read a darn good book, we’ve learned lessons that will stay with us forever.

What’s your favorite epic journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Throwback Week: Why Do We Relate to Epic Journeys? — 6 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more that the stories we read are reflections of real life. I think there’s a part in all of us that wants to know that we are an irreplaceable part of a very important adventure. It’s a thirst for significance.

    And at a less philosophical level, it’s also a thirst for fun. “Heck, I want to DO something COOL!”

    My favorite epic journey? Probably the first one that really shattered my mind as a child was “A Wrinkle in Time.” As the oldest of six, I can really relate to wanting to protect my family–to be willing to do ANYTHING to save them from danger–so I resonated powerfully with Megan’s desperate choices as she tried to save her father and, later, her younger brother. I still go back to that scene with the horrible “IT” and Megan’s struggle to reach her brother with her love for him. That journey empowered me to be like Meg, to have faith to uphold my family through the real-life rough times.

    • Great thoughts, Yaasha.

      I loved A Wrinkle in Time. It’s cool to see why and how certain stories resonate with us. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Everything about this. I love it.

    My favorite epic journey? That’s a tough one. Lord of the Rings, definitely. A Wrinkle in Time, certainly. The Death Gate Cycle… too many to name here, probably. I love the vast, sweeping scope of a quest, the struggle to survive, to protect all that is dear, and the triumphant return… sometimes tinged with the shadow of sorrow that the hero has “outgrown the Shire” a bit. That heart-wrenching moment when Frodo tells Sam that they saved the Shire, but that they didn’t save it for Frodo himself… something about that tears at my heart, but also resounds with truth. Sometimes the “places that used to fit me, cannot hold the things I’ve learned” and that is hard, but it’s also very real.

    • Wow, Jenelle. Beautiful description. Wish I could have said it that well in my post. 😀

      I agree…that part near the end is haunting. Love the quote “places that used to fit me…” but I don’t recognize it. What’s it from?

      • It’s from a Sara Groves song called “Painting Pictures of Egypt.” It’s kind of been my theme song at various points in my life: transitioning to college, moving to NC, moving to WI… lots of good imagery and relatable lyrics that kind of speak to my heart during transition times!

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