What is your favorite epic* story?
If you're from the United States, you know how we love our epic stories. Even if the story is from another culture or time...see Braveheart or Gladiator...our storytellers know how to create an epic. Over and over we are treated to sweeping vistas, swelling music, and slow-motion heroic deaths. The protagonist defeats the antagonist at great cost and after much oppression. It's almost always interwoven with a "love story for the ages" as well. Sound familiar?
At my house for the Fourth of July, "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson provided part of our soundtrack. It reminds me how amazing it is that we defeated the British when so many countries did not. We were able to say no to colonialism under British rule. It does fill my heart a little.
Over a decade ago now, I met weekly with some women to work though a book called, "The Journey of Desire". I think it's called something else now. We looked for clues in our own lives to help us know what kind of story we were meant to live. Written by a man, the author loved the epic stories. He wanted to BE William Wallace or Maximus. As a writer, I don't want to begrudge someone too much for the work they've already put out in the world. But I do question it. I mean, William Wallace didn't just wear blue face and give rousing speeches to the troops. If I remember right, he was drawn and quartered. Epic heroes don't always live to tell the true tale.
I started thinking about women and epic stories. We don't have quite as many that are told on the big screen yet. Yes, for Scarlett O'Hara, "Tomorrow is another day!" Is it possibly because so many women I know who live epic stories live them day in and day out? We take care of homes, children, the sick. Every day we get up and do what's needed again.
Is it worth it to try and live an epic life?
You know, I'm not sure. Getting to the swell of the music in the soundtrack of our lives happens maybe a handful of times. Maybe it's the birth of a baby or a recognition or reward for a job well done. I hope the climactic moments happen for all of us. I love the epic stories, the sweeping sagas. Something in me cries out to live open wide. But I think this is where considering the difference between an epic movie and an epic novel is important. Epic novels are traditionally 500 pages or more. That's hard to condense into a 2-3 hour movie. I think that the epic novel is a better representation of how living an epic life really looks. There's a LOT of characters, description, and history in between the moments of grandeur.
What do you think? Is being content with things as they are a sellout? Do we need a big life to feel truly alive? What does it mean to live an epic life? And what can the epic stories tell us?⠀
Epic: Majestic, heroic, impressively great in scale or character, extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.
Do you like to read epic novels? What's a favorite?
Here's some of mine: