The Step Not Taken
The Step Not Taken Have you ever been through a situation where it changed your perspective on how you see things? Or even changed you as a person? This is called an ‘archetype. ’ This is seen to shape the behaviour, belief, and identity of an individual and community. This can also be called an ‘epiphany’ which is a moment of sudden understanding, clarity, insight, or illumination that has a lasting impact on an individual and shapes his or her identity. That is exactly what happened in the essay, “The Step Not Taken” by Paul D’Angelo.
There are three stages in the Monomyth; Separation, Struggle or Initiation, then Return and Reintegration. The narrator of the essay, Paul D’Angelo, went through all three stages. In the first stage, Paul stepped into the elevator not knowing that that very moment will change his life forever. When the “well-dressed young man carrying a briefcase” burst into tears, Paul refused to see what was wrong with him because of a sense of fear and inadequacy. He was afraid of what might happen if he asked him to go for a cup of coffee together. ”What would his reaction have been to that?
Would he have turned even further to the wall? Or would he have turned on me? Cursing me? Telling me to mind my own damned business? Would he have lashed out at me? Sorrow and insecurity turned to rage? Would he have physically attacked me? Or would he have gone with me for that cup of coffee? ” The second stage is Struggle or Initiation. What this means is when the hero figure endures a series of physical, emotional, and/or spiritual hardships and tests, over which he or she may or may not triumph. In this case, he did not. Paul was going through a lot of mixed emotions at that time.
He didn’t know what to do because he’s never come across that situation before. The final stage is Return and Reintegration. Paul decided to walk out of that elevator without looking back. Once the elevator door shut, there was no turning back to see if he was okay. He just has to return home with the new wisdom, insight, or skill that has been acquired. Paul still felt very guilty for not helping him out, “I don’t know. I’ll never know. All I can be certain of is that I left him in the elevator with tears streaming down his face. And that he was alone. All alone. With that being said, he gave the society the new knowledge or power gained by writing an essay about what happened, and apologized to the man who was left in the elevator to cry, and that he didn’t acknowledge that he may have needed someone’s help. From that day on, he became more empathetic towards others. Moreover, Paul had an epiphany that had a lasting impact on him which shaped him as a person. This is an important realization in today’s society because everyone is so caught up in their own world that nobody notices people may need help. Each generation keeps becoming more fundamentally selfish.
People today need to stop thinking about themselves and start helping others, and make the world a better place. The hero’s starting point of the journey is when the man first began to cry because Paul had a million things running in his head, not knowing what to do. I don’t think there really is an end point to his journey because, he learned so much that day, and he will continue to carry on the knowledge and apply it on other situations. I do believe that the protagonist successfully completed his journey. Although he didn’t help him out at that very moment, he still reached out to the man and admits he was wrong for leaving him. I was wrong, dreadfully wrong, not to step forward in his time of need. ” Furthermore, there wasn’t a benevolent guide assisting the protagonist on his journey because he was on his own, there wasn’t anyone guiding him and telling him what to do. With all that being said, Paul D’Angelo’s story can help change people’s lives and bring them closer to one another. When you feel like you’re doing the right thing by helping someone out, never step back, because you never know what may happen in the future. Archetypes and Epiphanies can really do a lot more than just encourage people to help out others.