Using a 4000-year-old map to find our way home . . .
Dec 24, 2019
I keep this Guest House poem by Rumi in a frame on my desk because long ago I learned from Sogyal Rinpoche’s writings that our mind is like a flea. Thanks to him, one day when I was seriously considering suicide I sat and watched my mind for a few minutes and saw clearly for the first time that I was not thinking thoughts, thoughts were thinking me — and that if I developed the awareness to watch my thoughts and let them go my life would change. And so, in the early 90’s I began my journey to become a meditator.
Greg and I moved to a new town in October 2017, and this move was much more difficult than I expected. Then, just as we got settled, I was hit with three health issues that required immediate attention. Working to get my health and energy back has been especially challenging because I am dealing with three different issues at the same time in an unfamiliar city without my long-term doctors.
So my new program, Awakening Your Hero’s Journey, has had to take a back seat because of the move and my health issues. I (my thoughts) began to despair that I would never get back to my project. And I (my thoughts) was now feeling old — being 74 never even touched me before when I was strong, in good health, doing work I loved — but, I have not able to sail through this move the way I have always done in the past. And, my Mother began her descent into Alzheimer's at this age, and this thought created a movie clip of her decline which wormed its way into the stream of my scary, depressing thoughts as well.
I had told myself at the beginning of the move that this “adventure” would contribute to my Hero’s Journey program as I overcame obstacles and leaped tall buildings with a single bound. But this is not what has happened, and I have been feeling lost and a bit hopeless.
And then I remembered two of the more important lessons I’ve learned in my lifetime. One was learning to meditate and be aware of my thoughts, to know that they are just thoughts, to know that my mind is like a flea and thoughts can change in an instant. And the other was to ignore that silly “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” question, the one that creates the impression that failure is to be avoided when actually that is how we learn.
Now I see that my experiences while struggling to become a meditator (as I wrote about in Choosing To Be), and my deep understanding of The Hero’s Journey, which taught me that all heroes are afraid, and all heroes fail — these experiences are exactly what I need to bring into the Hero's Journey program.
We are living in Dante’s Inferno today, and it often feels like the ground is being taken from beneath our feet. This is why it is of paramount importance that we learn to watch our thoughts and not let them run away with us.
Now is the time when we need to take comfort in the 4000-year-old Hero’s Journey, the Journey that teaches us over and over again that all heroes feel lost, that they are afraid, that they stumble and fail, and that ultimately they are transformed by the journey.
Note: I wrote this post last year before Greg died. I've now created a new website as I am finally getting ready to launch my Awakening Your Hero's Journey Program, and I've decided to bring a few of my earlier posts to this new website. This particular post helps me every time I read it . . .