Joseph Campbell's description of a hero's journey begins when the hero or heroine feels an inner calling to begin an adventure, a journey into the unknown. The calling comes after a disruption, or a threat to one's existing life. For some, this may be a failed relationship, loss of a job, or illness.
Right now, for humanity, it's a worldwide pandemic.
The disruption came unexpectedly for most of us and we quickly and dutifully answered the call, embarking on a journey that took us far away from our normal existence. It's taken us out of our comfort zone and has literally separated us from our previously known world. Separation and lack of comfort zone are the initial phases of any initiation, or rite of passage.
Perhaps it was the collective soul that initiated this journey. Or our higher selves knowing change needed to happen. Regardless, here we are.
Like it or not, we are on the hero's journey. A journey of transformation, redemption and renewal. We are out of our comfort zone and far from what we've known as normal. Many are struggling with being out of work, or working from home. Or struggling to home school their children, or figuring how to make up for their business's lost income.
In the beginning of this journey, Campbell describes this phase as resistance, refusing to leave our comfort zone. For some, this has been the refusal to give up their modern conveniences, and for others, a refusal to believe this pandemic is even real. They don't want to face their fears and hesitate to fully step onto the path of this journey. However, for others, they've felt prepared as though they've been standing at the trail head waiting for the rest of humanity to join them on this journey.
The last stage of the first phase of this journey is when we've fully embark on the trail and we're beyond the point of no return. I feel we reached this marker a few weeks ago as we all realized this wasn't going to end any time too soon. The masks stayed on and the sanitizing wipes are never far from reach. We're sensing that we may never return to normal. And so here we are, fully committed to walking the path of the hero's journey and entering the initiatory phase.
The second phase of this journey is where we're tested --it's the initiation aspect of the journey. But we first seek support. For some of us, we've turned to our families, our communities, and for some, we've deepened our relationship with nature. We seek comfort and support where we can.
Then comes the temptress, attempting to seduce us. Is this an over consumption of alcohol or food? Are you being seduced into making money off this pandemic? Are you seduced by the drama and have a difficult time unplugging from the daily news? Are you seduced by conspiracy theories? Typically, the temptress of this mythic journey shows up as a love interest --the beautiful woman or the handsome man perfectly poised to pull us off our path of self-discovery. Not this time.
The pandemic has made sure this won't happen.
If we can free ourselves from the clutches of the temptress, we then reach the most challenging part of this journey. This is the major turning point and the defining moment. On a personal hero's journey, we confront our fathers. This may be the realization that we've been living our life to please our fathers and seek their approval. Or discover the person who is in the role of protecting us has instead been undermining our well-being or has abandoned us. For women this may be experienced as rightful rage erupting when we realize how we've sacrificed our own feminine power as a daughter of the patriarch. It's a pivotal point because we awaken our power and our personal truth. We untangle lies and misconceptions.
On humanity's journey, it's the government and our political leaders and our health officials that stand in the role of the father. It's not just our personal father's word we're confronting, but instead having to wade through the muck of greed, lies, conspiracy theories, and fake news to get to the truth. We are challenged greatly to awaken our own power. At every turn, we're having to face yet another view point, another discovery, another lie, continually having to discern what is real and what isn't.
And here's the defining moment - are we going to allow ourselves to get polarized believing we need to take a side? Are we going to get swept up in the strong current of blame? Are we going to fall into the role of the victim? These are all paralyzing choices we're challenged with every day.
Are we okay admitting that we just don't know what is true and what isn't?
It's not easy to let anything fall apart, especially a reality that has defined every aspect of our world. It's scary, even terrifying - I get it. You have no control, and there's no turning back. It's like being on a roller coaster ride getting flipped around at every twist and turn not knowing where you're going to end up. Truly the only thing you can do is to breathe. That you do have control over. You can breathe through this and learn to trust in the unknown. Trust that as the world that we've known is dismantling and crumbling, there is a beautiful, new reality in the making. We just might not be able to see it yet.
This is the surrender aspect of this journey that leads us to trust and to have faith because truly, we have no other choice. It's bigger than us and we just need to let go and surrender to the swift moving current of change. Deep, deep understanding of the purpose of this journey follows this phase if we can resist the urge to stay in the mode of blame or the victim or polarization.
We can do this. There is a middle road that leads to a new reality.
But it requires commitment and dedication and awareness. Are you going to allow yourself to get sucked into polarizing thoughts and beliefs? Are you going to get stuck in blame(okay, maybe throw one or two stones, and then get back on the path.). Are you going to trust this journey and fully commit to knowing your power and your truth?
The next part of this journey, which humanity has yet to encounter, has its own challenges. But right now, at this turning point, we are laying the foundation for what's to come. The building of a new reality.
Let's stay present. Let's trust. Let's breathe. And let's love ourselves and one another through this.
The journey continues...