The gratitude and blessing I received by leaving my ordinary world behind to travel ultimately shaped my perspective. Ordinary Jane looked the same, but her edges had been sanded and rounded into new understanding. As the trip drew to a close, my husband and I now looked at the long trip home from Rome to Hawaii.
In Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien, Aragon, having vanquished Gondor, gathers the troops to go to the black gate and make a final stand against Sauron to support Frodo’s journey to destroy the ring. Meanwhile, Frodo faces Gollum for ultimate control over the ring but we know he is really facing the destruction of himself. In any hero’s journey, this final trial is the ultimate test that determines not only the hero’s worthiness, but also provides the opportunity to use her new found perspective. Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth” identified this as The Final Battle. Harry Potter does this in the final book, The Deathly Hallows, when he must face Voldemort with the Elder Wand. These final battles determine the outcome of good versus evil with our heroes at the center of the struggle. In all of the cases, each hero has her new found knowledge to support the conflict.
While The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter are fantasy stories filled with magic and monsters, the everyday, ordinary hero might confront a conversation with a significant other, or a parent, maybe standing up for themselves at work, or reaching an achievement. The Final Battle may not be a grandiose conquering of an evil being, but just coming full circle changed.
My final battle:
My husband and I boarded our first flight. Easy Peasy. On the second flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles, I sat next to a young man headed home to the United States. While a nice human, each time he stood up, I was gifted with the strongest stench of poo. I fortified my nose by burying it into the arm of my husband on the other side of me. Twelve hours later, barely making it through customs because my dark-skinned husband needed additional screening into the country, running at least a mile and a half to our gate and a narrowly missed flight home, we made it to our gate.
We settled into the seats for our final leg home. An elderly gentleman sitting next to me - struggling to communicate with the flight attendant due to a language barrier - pulls out a massive stalk of dried squid (ike) at least 12-16 inches long and begins to gnaw on it. The strong aroma of dried squid (if you aren’t sure, it’s probably easy to imagine) turned my stomach. As the man chewed that jerky like squid from one to the other without hands, I spend most of the next six hour flight with my nose against my husband’s other arm. Good stories and ones we love to laugh about now.
This final task, the twenty-plus hours of travel to make it from one side of the globe to another, When we landed in Hawaii, it had never felt better to return home.