I did a post about the , a term coined by Joseph Campbell about the shaping of heroes through facing obstacles and challenges. Heroes are mythic characters from folk tales, but as I explained in the post--real life heroes are being made every day.
As a hero in the making myself, I have come to see everything that has happened to me from my depression on has formed my own hero's journey. And because of this view, I find much of my bitterness from those experiences is fading away. I see the bigger picture, that all this is not personal--but rather a story being told through its daily creation. When I remember this life is merely a hero's journey, I take things far less seriously, and I feel much more courageous. For in the end, I will pass on like everyone else--so there's no reason to take it so seriously, but enjoy the ride much as I would enjoy a good story being told.
In the next few months I will be on one of the most treacherous legs of this journey, and I believe the dangers to my spirit will intensify. I do not know if I will break, but so far I find this strength arise that I can't explain. I really should have crumpled up by now, but I find myself strong, vibrant, and happy. It is deeply mystifying, but it's a sign I am on the right path.
There are a few people in my life who recognize my life is a hero's journey and support me. They are my champions and provide strength. They are not baffled as to why I am doing what I am doing. Those who do not see the big picture of what is going on judge harshly. Being in the presence of judgment is damaging to one's spirit, so I stay clear of them. As my friend Lionel tells me, "Avoid those who are vexatious to the spirit."
A couple of months ago I was walking through the neighborhood and met sweet Lionel doing some work in his garage. I introduced myself, and a wonderful friendship has transpired. He's a retired senior who is involved in service organizations doing good anywhere he can. He is kind and wise and believes in me. When my spirits are low, I can count on his gentle nature to bring me in balance again.
In the myths of hero's journey--whether it's fairy tales or modern myths like Star Wars, the heroes have supportive friends. It could be woodland creatures like dwarves or animals like in Snow White or robots and a wise sage in Star Wars. I have more than a handful of woodland creatures looking after me and more show up everyday in all kinds of forms. Lionel is one of them. No hero can do it alone. There must be support.
I was curious about this quote Lionel says about avoiding those vexatious to the spirit, so I Googled the phrase and discovered it is from a poem by Max Ehrmann called The Desiderata of Happiness. It is a beautiful poem that describes a way of being that promotes happiness. As it turns out, much of what it says I am doing or wish to do. Lionel got it right once again.
And so this hero's journey continues, and I wonder where it's heading. Will I break or will I flourish? I can't say. Given the ever-present and growing support that continues to arise, I suspect this hero just might make it to the summit. However, life is unpredictable, and one can never know. Trust is fundamental, trust that everything happens for the best.
Ultimately, I hope this hero is evolving into someone who is not vexatious to the spirits that surround her. I do have an aggressive streak in me. Perhaps my many woodland creatures, like Lionel--will keep revealing to me the better angel of my nature and tame this beast that resides within. If having a good character is a summit to be reached that is good enough for me. And if the promise of that poem holds true, then perhaps happiness is inevitable.
"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here." -- (Ehrmann, Desiderata)