Everyone is going through a trying time right now. As I’ve been sitting in my home, under a self-imposed lockdown due to the COVID-19 danger posed by my history of asthma, I have pondered how to take advantage of this opportunity. I’ve always said to myself, as many of you probably have, “If I only had the space and time to do the things I want to do.”
Well, my wish has been granted, and it is a bit terrifying.
This wonderful and terrifying opportunity brought to my mind the Hero’s Journey. What is the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is a pattern that many stories old and new seem to follow. The theory of the Hero’s Journey was made popular by Joseph Campbell. In Campbell’s theory, the hero of the story is taken from his ordinary day-to-day life to face challenges and return back to ordinary life victorious and with new wisdom. It is the pattern of departure, initiation, and return. Examples of this story pattern are Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Harry Potter, Paul Atreides in Dune, Bilbo in The Hobbit, and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.
So I have been wondering: How does the idea of the hero’s departure, initiation, and return fit into our current experience?
Let’s start with “The Departure.”
The Hero is living a normal life when they receive a call to adventure. Often aided by a mentor figure on a mystical journey.
“The Departure” is when the hero is forced outside of their comfort zone.
Under the lens of this pandemic, I think we can all relate to this idea of being taken out of normal, day to day, life. Even if you worked from home every day already, you probably still had routines that took you outside of your home. Maybe it was going to the gym, or eating at your favorite restaurant once a week. Maybe you went to the movie theater on a regular basis. Heck, just the absence of professional sports has thrown many people outside of their comfort zone.
And when you do venture out into the world beyond your home right now, everything is different. People stay six feet away from each other. People are wearing masks and gloves. Entire shelves in grocery stores are empty. The fact of the matter is, because of COVID-19 we have all been taken out of our normal routines. We are all outside of our comfort zones. We are all trying to figure out what this new life means and wondering how long it will last.
For me, personally, I have all kinds of ways my life has been thrown into the unknown. My days used to be filled with client appointments and yoga classes all strategically placed for maximum efficiency. Now, my day planner is completely empty. This is the first time in 20 years that I have been not working as a massage therapist at some point for longer than a week. I have even grown my nails out, which is crazy. I’m used driving around town teaching yoga classes at various studios and private yoga client’s homes. Now, I’m not allowed to go anywhere except a walk around the block. It has been an adjustment.
What about the part of the mystical journey being aided by a mentor? For Bilbo and Frodo the mentor was Gandolf. For Luke Skywalker it was Obi-wan and Yoda. And for Harry Potter it was Dumbledore.
Think about what is pushing you to expand and what is helping you to stay grounded during this journey. For me, I’d say my mentors are the Universe and the Enneagram. The Universe is challenging me to push my boundaries by exploring other avenues of business and the Enneagram is my coach helping me deal with my fears.
Because of the Enneagram, I know my personality type (9 – The Peacemaker) can easily fall into sloth. This doesn’t necessarily mean being lazy. What it means is becoming inured to what is best for you and your own self-growth. I could easily slip into a routine of watching TV shows all day and reading books. This, to an Enneagram 9, is called “numbing out.” But I know from past experience that the road of sloth only leads to depression. And, I know from past experience, it is extremely hard to climb out of that depression. Thanks to the Enneagram, I know I need to be productive in some way or all will be lost. (To learn more about the Enneagram, click here.)
If we are the heroes of our personal journey, we are all on starting with our own “Departure” right now. So take a moment to step back and observe what is different in your life. Is it temporary or permanent? How does it make you feel? And who or what is there to be a “mentor” as you embark on this challenging journey.
In the next blog, I will explore “The Initiation” of the Hero’s Journey and how it relates to our lives in the now.
And so, the journey begins…
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