Interview by Sarah Mervosh
Name: Bill Byrne
Hometown: Morgantown, WV
Occupation: Lawyer, judge and elected member of city council
Passions: Golfing, cooking, playing guitar, rock climbing, fishing and
spending time with his wife and daughters
Number of Journeys: Eight
HJ Message to Live By: Expect nothing. Be ready for anything.
HJP: Why were you compelled to go on the journey?
BB: I was at a point in my life where I was looking to reawaken mylife and to explore parts of myself that I hadn’t looked at yet. I was looking for an adventure and I was invited on an adventure. As a younger man, I participated in a lot of adventures and then I got married and had kids and got a career. I said, “I need to re-adventure my life.”
HJP: Did the Hero’s Journey ® do that for you?
BB: Yes, very much so.
HJP: How so?
BB: Through a set of experiences—physical and emotional and interactive. Lots of challenges were presented to me, and there were all sorts of invitations to take my life in a different direction or take a new step. And each time I did that, I found sort of a new opening and a new way and new levels of accepting of myself.
HJP: How do you see your own life as a hero’s journey?
BB: I see myself willing now to go to places and go into situations where I would have never gone before … I have a lot more trust in my own innate ability to take on whatever looks interesting and attracts me, without so much fear of failure, without so much fear of things not working out like I planned. I have fewer plans, and more interest in seeing what emerges.
This whole political thing. I would have never done this in the past … Nine years ago when I started the Hero’s Journey ®, I would not have understood how I needed to re-examine my motives and behavior in working with, rather than against, other people.
HJP: How did the Hero’s Journey ® help you with that?
BB: As a lawyer, I was always taught to advocate and to speak very strongly for my position. And I had a lot of opinions and a lot of judgments about things. It doesn’t lead you to acknowledging different positions and the validity of other people’s points of view. I needed the confidence to say well you know, that may be one person’s position and that might be another person’s position and I can have a third.
Being able to clearly state my vision and views and be able to allow others to have theirs without seeing them as “the enemy,” and to be able to see them as possible allies if we can find common ground is a perspective I learned from the Hero’s Journey. We are all in this together in this game of life and we’re trying to do the best we can do. As opposed to saying well you’re wrong and I’m right and I’m going to beat you. And it helped me to see a different way towards compromise.
HJP: So how did that help you in your relationships?
BB: It has helped and continues to help with my daughters. It helps with my wife. Being more open makes you more available to people, makes you less judgmental. My daughters would say, “Dad had a lot of strong positions about things.” And I never failed to express them. Now, I feel that I’m less that way and more willing to listen to their perspective. Also important is the constant awareness of my interior life…. Of the heart and of the soul. The Hero’s Journey ® is an inward adventure that many men have never learned how to take- we don’t learn it in school, only sometimes in our places of worship… and we rarely discuss it among ourselves.
HJP: How do you see yourself as a hero in your own life?
BB: I’ve always had a hard time with that word hero. It’s got a sort of a superman connotation in today’s society and I don’t see myself like that. I just see myself as somebody who is willing to take risks and enter into unknown areas, into things and places for an adventure that will bring more life to myself and the people around me. This is a hero’s journey having this conversation with you.