Friday, December 3, 2010
Now I Will Me To Be A Bold Swimmer
I've been thinking a lot about the hero's journey these days.
I've never read Joseph Campbell, because Neil Gaiman scared me off of him without meaning to, but I'd like to think I know my fair share about heroes' journeys because let's face it. I am a sci-fi and fantasy geek and I always have been. She hid in secret for awhile, but she was always there.
I've been thinking about the hero's journey because a trial has come and I want to know if I can pass the test. Like the hero does.
Me and the heroes, we do ok for awhile. We deal with our little trials. Dust a vamp here, slay an orc there, use an expelliarmus before sitting down with a butter beer. We recognize we are looking for something and hey, we always knew there would be bumps a long the way.
But there was something on the horizon that we couldn't see coming, wasn't there? And so, for the heroes and for me, the stakes heighten. The little reavers we patted ourselves on the back for offing were never going to be the real trial. The world is so much larger than that.
So comes the point where the hero fully comprehends the task set before her. It is so much more difficult that she'd ever imagined. So massive and lurking and advanced. She knows that this time, the task is too large. The gods have required too much.
I felt like I hit the point where I can't carry on. I can't do it anymore. I fell off the horse and I can't muster the gumption to put my foot back in the stirrup.
The gods have asked too much.
(Because I don't want you worrying and imagining terrible ominous things, I want to stop 'coding', as I've been told I do, and just say it straight here: I was smacked with a depression that is a little bit seasonal and a little bit genetic. And I heard a new career wish in my heart that feels too crazy to be possible and too desperate to be ignored. Together, they leveled me. They melded into one massive creature that I would like to call, fondly, the Demon Cyvoldereaver Vampiremort Number Six.)
All those demons, all the monsters--they are the struggles we face in our own lives. Struggles to remain soft in this world that sometimes seems bright and brimming with possibility, but at others feels overwhelmingly large and cold and yes, ugly. They represent the struggle for us not to turn to stone. Not to live in eternal winter in our hearts. Our struggles to be kind, to remain open, to wonder, to explore, to just be alive in this world when often things aren't easy and there are never any guarantees.
The moment comes for every hero. And, as it turns out, for me. They see the task before them is too great. The battle can't be won. Survival relies on achieving the impossible. They feel weary and broken and that they can't go on.
They always do the same thing. Jesus, Harry Potter, Buffy, Starbuck, Cap'n and Zoe, Dean Winchester (Hi Kimmy!) Strider, Gandalf, all of them.
They spend a dark night in contemplation. They allow themselves a moment, an hour, a night of blackness and fear.
Then they come out guns blazing and fight the damn thing anyway.
Fight even though they know they can't win. Fight even though too much has been asked, too much is required.
I'm trying not to get too 'everyone's a hero in their own way' on you here. But we love the stories because they show us the things that we, too, might be capable of achieving. We don't slay demons or dragons or cylons, but the things we do face, are, I believe, much harder.
The heroes realize this truth: The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.*
Survival here requires more than training and practice with magic or a sword. It requires us to dig things up from the bottoms of our souls and our selves, things that hurt as they grow--when they're not refusing to grow at all.
It was time for me to go down to my depths and I felt like I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep going. It's been too hard. I felt broken. I felt a hardening inside me. I was too weary to fight, and I couldn't see my tribe.
The hardest thing in his world is to live in it. Monsters are slayed with a weapon, in a moment. That was never the real battle.
The real battle is the one within ourselves. To be of good faith. To let that little thing with feathers keep singing in your heart, even when sometimes you think hope is so stupid you'd rather strangle it than hear it chirp again.
I have a soul manifesto and it is this: I am on a journey. I have not arrived, and I respect that journey, with all its trials and all its dim lanterns and all its tangled, diverging paths. I respect the search. I believe one harmonic soul benefits the whole universe, like ripples in a pond. I will take hope and faith and love wherever I find them, and for those I will not stop searching. I will encourage the journey of every soul toward its own liberation. I don't want to be firm. I don't want to be stone. Here I will do my best to be open and tender. It hurts. It's what heroes do--the thing that scares them. The thing that is too much.
And I always wanted to be one.
See? My guns are blazing.
I am Vesuvius and I'm a big damn hero, I just decided.
*The quote is from Buffy. I believe it was written by the BDH Joss Whedon.