Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Hero's Journey--the Hero is YOU

It feels like I'm sitting at campfires lately with my friends. Each of us telling tales to bolster our courage but also tales of the monster that lurks as well (the monster makes it exciting!).

Gentle reader I've been thinking about you. Yes you. I know that somewhere in the arc of your life you are up against unbearable odds. That you don't feel strong enough. That you want to go home and cover yourself up with a warm blanket and sip a cup of cocoa by the fire.

But there is no going back. Not until your mission is complete.

I've been giving a lot of thought to the Hero's Journey lately. It comes up all the time in conversations with my friends and haunts my dreams. It's made me think about all the people I know right now that are giving up something reliable (if boring/frustrating/unsatisfying) for something brighter, bigger, more inspiring.

Sometimes we leave on a spring day with the sun shining and it seems like a cheerful outing, the destination never in doubt--what could go wrong?

Sometimes we leave because we must. The fortress is in flames and there is no way but forward--out into a night that vision cannot penetrate. You find you can't read your maps because it's dark, or you lost them or they were the wrong maps in the first place. You have some dim idea of where you are supposed to end up but how to get there is a big mystery.

In either scenario there will come a time when the journey will look utterly impossible. The sunny day will be replaced by night. You will feel small, inadequate and destined to fail. The thing you thought would be a fun lark turned out to be a wild ride on a dragon plunging fast through ink dark waters. Why are you doing this in the first place?

Why indeed?

The difference between a hero and anyone else caught in the rain is that the hero knows there is no going back. The thing called home no longer exists as it was because the very act of taking the journey changes a body and by extension changes the world.

You have to go forward.

The other key difference between a hero and anyone else is that the hero is striving on behalf of something far greater than themselves. Heroes act in service to something they know matters  and that only they can do. This isn't a fucking hobby! Heroes may wish they could abandon this purpose but they cannot. It haunts and reminds them to get back on the path--that it all depends on them. And the hero chooses to go on.

Moving forward with your art, your work, your Wildly Improbable Goal is every bit as perilous as the quest for the Grail. The urge to quit, to go home and to try to forget what you set out to do is always there waving a warm blanket like a flag.

Navy SEAL training is famously tough (an understatement). The trainers kick sand in your food and torture recruits with drills in the cold Pacific waters followed by beach sprints, loaded pushups and exhausting repetition meant to break the mind down. Always in the distance the recruits can see a little wagon that has hot coffee, donuts and blankets. Recuits that ring the bell, signalling that they  quit get to go to that little wagon in full view of all the others. They get kindness there. They are told they are ok and that it was hard and that many fail.

The donut eaters get a moment's warmth but they aren't SEALs.

(its so tempting to be a donut eater)

Yours was not meant to be a common life. That is why you are facing the things you face today.

Despite the dragons, dark nights and sandy food, keep this in mind. No matter how hard this seems YOU AREN'T ALONE.

Carrying forward gets the attention of the Gods, Muses as well as helpful angels and spirits. The magic shield, the singing sword, the inextinguishable candle, the stroke of luck or a lighting bolt of inspiration comes from commitment to the path. Luck follows courage and purpose.

Expect providence to find you when you least expect it and most need it. Be clear about your purpose--the why and who you are undertaking your journey for--expand it so your light is shining on the largest crowd you can imagine. Keep them in your mind as you take your next step.

No one can do this but you. Go!

1 comment:

  1. Sash,
    This is your best post yet! Wonderful, Insightful and full of power!