Point of View

Point of View
and if you wanted to drown you could, but you don’t...~David Whyte

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Room Of Our Own

Passing It Forward:

I'm excited to highlight a fellow writer's work on KellyBlog. 
This piece by Jennifer Erickson made me howl.

An excerpt from:
Turning Shit into Gold (with apologies to Joseph Campbell)

Who can be a hero? Anybody. Yes, you heard me.

You don't have to be  perfect: you're human, after all. You can be old or young, rich or poor, and you don't need an education or prestigious job. You don't have to be charming or nice, although becoming a hero might require some painful introspection. Your life may have started out crappy, but that's actually an advantage, because being a hero is hard, and a miserable childhood can toughen you up.

A hero does not have to be male, by the way. Yes, in the movies women are mostly decorative, but in real life there's more to women than cleavage and painful shoes.

I'm going to warn you right now that becoming a hero will be the hardest thing you have ever done. It's not all ticker-tape parades and Oprah interviews. It's a long, difficult journey. The good news is that your  journey is already there, waiting for you, and you may have started that journey without knowing it. You just have to have the courage to finish.

The hero doesn't start out wanting to save the world. As a matter of fact, you can be a screw-up. One colossal mistake leads you in a completely unexpected (and unwanted) direction. It might be a drunk-driving conviction or a jumbo mortgage. Or there might be some sign from the hidden world that things are about to get weird, like your boss asks whether there's something else you'd rather be doing, or sewage comes up through the bathtub drain.

 Either way, you're not impressed, and not particularly keen to go gallivanting off on an adventure. You'd really rather watch American Idol and have a beer.

But after having decided to do nothing instead of adventuring, you start to see the emptiness, the meaninglessness of your life. You sink into depression. You're trying to figure out how to get out of your rut when something happens to remind you that adventure awaits. And this time you feel a little less afraid. After all, what do you have to lose? Your life sucks. Before you can chicken out, you leap into the adventure.

Immediately, you are submersed in a world of monsters and seduction and strange supernatural stuff. Often, an intimidating mentor helps you until you get the hang of it.

Eventually, you get a little cocky. What you don't realize is that this is just a warmup. Hero boot camp.

The real journey begins then, with terrors beyond any you had imagined, and even worse, your mentor isn't returning your calls. You're going to have to go deep, psychologically speaking, and it will be painful. Your old self will be annihilated, but when you come through it you will realize that you had nothing to fear all along.

You might think this is the end of the story, but really it's just the beginning. You must raise your level of consciousness to succeed in every new trial. You are growing up.

You start to see that all is one: you stop thinking of things in terms of opposites: you and I, good and evil, masculine and feminine, success and failure. You see the world in all its messy perfection. Everything is necessary to the whole, including this shitty journey you're on.

You master the world, but that's not where it stops. You realize that the whole world is in you as you are in the world.


Yeah, but that's not the end of it. There's trial after trial, and the hero in you just lets it happen. Desires and hostility dissolve. Your soul is stripped bare. You lose everything. You might think you have had enough, but alas, no.

You step into the void, the world beyond the world. Finally, you are at peace, and you don't want to go back to humanity and opposites and strife and people with their petty little egos. Who can blame you? You worked hard to get this point. Even if you're in a coma, you're content.

The problem is, you're a hero, and the sacred duty, the destiny of a hero is to bring back your wisdom to society. So with regret you tear away from the void, where all was perfection and peace, and dive back into ugly, petty humanity.

And when you arrive with your hard-won wisdom, you're talking a little bit above everybody else's understanding, so nobody cares. Yeah, they call you a weirdo, a loser. It's even in the newspaper: "So-and-so sucks.". Your spouse takes the kids and moves in with your mother and you're not invited to Thanksgiving dinner. And so the trials continue. I told you being a hero would suck.

Find Jennifer Erickson at:  http://jenniferericksonauthor.blogspot.com/


Maggie Caldwell said...

"More to women than cleavage and painful shoes" is perfect. I love your take on life; I'm coming out of a few challenging years and much prefer now to think of myself as a female Odysseus.

Jennifer Erickson said...

Thank you, Maggie! And thank you for posting my piece, Kelly!