Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Heroes Journey Part I

Here is Part I:

Follow Your Bliss

Joseph Campbell
(March 26, 1904 – October 31, 1987) wrote a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).

His work is summarized with the words, "Follow Your Bliss," or "The Hero's Journey.

When I began to share the idea of going to Jonas Brothers concerts with Hannah this summer and the ups and downs of selling my house, several of my friends told me that I was on a Hero's Journey; the kind of journey Joseph Campbell talked about in his books. I resisted this idea and pushed it away. How could this be a Hero's journey? I wouldn't even consider what they were saying. This was Jonas Brothers concerts! This is frivolous, fun, carefree.

Hadn't I already been on the hero's journey when my son was born with a congenital heart defect and died 19 months later? Hadn't I been on this journey when I had an autoimmune condition and fought my way back to health? Hadn't I been on the hero's journey with my husband's illness and death. Come on! How could this be a hero's journey!

All I can say right now is they were right. When my house didn't sell and then there were delays, it was a blessing. Finding resources, placing myself in this situation, continuing to follow the guidance of my heart instead of the logic of my head opened me to new ideas, new places, and new experiences. If I had had all of the tickets and hotels and a planned itinerary, I would have missed the true journey of discovery.

If you haven't heard of Joseph Campbell or the Hero's Journey, here is a very, very brief description. If you want to know more, here is a link to one summary:

1. Adventure: You are called to an adventure that you resist.

In my situation, I wanted this adventure with my daughter, but when the sale of my house fell through, I resisted. It didn't make logical sense. It would have been easier for me to deal with illness or death than to allow myself to go an adventure labeled fun.

For someone else, the adventure might call them to get a full-time job, but for me who had a life of responsibility, it was a call to freedom, to release myself from this life and to find a bigger world.

"By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself."

Going on the summer trip meant I was risking everything. My house, my life, my reputation and opening myself to receive support in a way I had never allowed before. I spent the whole summer "asking and receiving."

2. Initiation: This is a series of tests or trials that the Hero must go through.

If you have been reading the blogs all summer you have watched us with our money struggles and with the discovery of resources to make it to the end.

There was a point when I arrived in Florida for two concerts in August. As much as I truly love my family, I knew that if I were to stay in Florida with my sister or my parents, it was all over. The learning, the opportunity for a breakthrough had not arrived. I was out of money. I had to find a way to continue. I thought about giving up and staying there with them. It was safe and comfortable. I could have waited for the settlement of my house on Aug 28 and quit this crazy concert thing I was doing.

Under different circumstances I would have loved to hang out in Florida for a few weeks. But, on the hero's journey, sleeping at a rest stop for several weeks was more desirable. That is where the breakthrough to freedom would happen, not in the womb of childhood. I felt at that time that all I needed was enough money to fill up the gas tank and drive as far as I could, then wait for the house to sell.

At that point, a good friend loaned us $300 and Hannah and I decided to commit to the next three concerts. We had over 1,000 miles to cover for those three concerts. It was a quest at this point that stretched us to find free or really cheap tickets, sleep in the car, and look for free food.

In Atlanta and Nashville, we received free tickets that would have been discarded, and we slept in the car on our way from Atlanta to Lexington, Kentucky. We ate free ice cream for lunch in Nashville at an Honor Society event. A free hotel room in Kentucky. Ask and receive. Ask and receive.

It was after sleeping in the car, as a conscious choice, that I found the deepest level of freedom I have ever felt. I can't tell you why it happened that way. I only know that I felt it the next morning. As I watched the sunrise that morning, I thought to myself, I can do anything, go anywhere, or be anything I want to be! And it was the feeling of that truth that helped me expand into a fuller person.

3. Return: the return to your life.

We are back in Baltimore. I am writing again from my favorite Panera restaurant in the world. I am sleeping in the one bed that is left in the house. I am asking myself questions.

Is that why the house has not sold? I had to return to the place I have lived and grown for the last 28 years? The challenge at this level is to retain the wisdom and to use it in life without falling into the old patterns.

There are 17 in-depth steps in the Heros journey and I have reduced it to 3 brief sections. There is more exploration for me. It may come to me in a flash or it may come to me 10, 20 years from now.

More thoughts in a few days... The journey continues.

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