The rocky tender on the Mediterranean Sea and the inner-strength I found to ride it seemed like a turning point for me on my first experience out of the country. Symbolically, that “in the belly of the whale” moment helped me to understand that I had more strength than I understood about myself. Yet, it seems so trivial now. In light of all that is happening in the broken world that struggles with extreme poverty, war, families ripped apart, refugees, racism and rape. My heart feels heavy considering the trivial nature of this post. A hero’s journey and story . . .really?
Yet, I write forward anyway to draw this series toward a close, and symbolically, this heavy heart encapsulates The Road Back as the hero of Campbell’s “Monomyth” is changed by her journey. The road back leads the hero toward the final battle and a crossing back into her ordinary world now changed. It’s all about determining if the hero is worthy: worthy of “winning” that final battle; worthy of the elixir of power; worthy of the knowledge learned.
How do I reconcile those experiences - my experiences - as an ordinary person moving through life and who’s struggle can’t compare to the heavier burden faced by other ordinary folks just trying to survive? Currently, I’m ready Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and while he’s poignant and funny, the truth is unflinchingly honest about racism and poverty. The lessons of his experience in an apartheid South Africa and the post-apartheid aftermath highlight how an ordinary person’s journey can shape them into something extraordinary.
One thing that I carry with me is that leaving my comfort zone - traveling beyond the confines of my comfortable ordinary world - whether it’s out of the country, to a bordering town, into a restaurant never tried, into an antagonistic meeting at work, or in between the covers of a book about apartheid, I’m forced to reflect on myself and my beliefs with uncomfortable honesty. Failure to do so would certainly prove me unworthy to move into that new awareness I didn’t even know I needed. That is the aftermath of a successful foray into the cave and the reemergence as the hero journeys the road back.
So while my exploration of my experience does seem trivial, the road back and the awareness gained made me clearer. How could I have ever opened my eyes to truth and understood it from the couch in my ordinary world? Why would I have ever needed to?