This Memorial Day is an opportunity to recall our Veterans, to understand and honor their sacrifice. It is also a time to thank them and to realize such bravery and strength in our own lives. To different degrees, we all must move through the process of accepting and facing what is and what is to come. “The Hero’s Journey” according to Michael Mervosh describes the stages through which we all must travel to know our true self as hero.
This stage begins within the comforts of business as usual. It is at this level that life throws us a curve ball. Whether through a punch in the stomach, or a light tap on the shoulder, life has a way of forcing us to grow up and out of innocence.
The Call to Adventure
Whether through a lay off, an affair, an illness or a death, at this stage, such “wake up calls” make us stand at attention. For the hero at this stage, the essential quality of discernment emerges. It is now that we must be still, be quiet and listen to which way the wind is blowing.
Answering the Call/Beginning the Journey
At this point, we are afraid to commit. The hero must learn to be grounded. This will be essential when the terrain becomes rocky and unstable. We must prepare before moving onward. Attention to details, repeated practice, guidance, and developing a focus are all important components of laying the groundwork.
Crossing the Threshold/Entering the Forest
It is here we learn how to truly be vulnerable and powerless. At this stage we are completely lost. The hero must now learn patience and how to tolerate the discomfort of not knowing. Being lost is just what is needed in order to properly prepare us for the experience of being found.
Sacrifice and Initiation
The highest price must be paid for the hero to truly be a hero. Something within us must die in order to make room for the new life which is to come.
Facing the Dragon/Entering the Belly of the Beast
It is at this level that the hero must face a supreme ordeal or monumental challenge, which changes the hero on a fundamental level, and we will never be the same. The hero must find the essential quality of courage, requiring us to master the emotion of fear, rather than be paralyzed by it. As the hero, we must know the necessity of leaning on our support systems (friends, families, pastors, or therapists) so that we can remain under fire and still survive.
The hero must learn to leave other things to others, so we can see and recognize the true purpose of the journey. In so doing, we will notice the chance encounters with people, books, music, nature, etc. as signs confirming that we are on the right track.
Time of Blessings/Celebration
As the hero, we now have found and understand the vision for our life. It is time for celebration. We are so grateful for this gift, for it changes everything. Now there is room for immense joy.
Crossing the Threshold/Returning Home
The journey continues past the blessings and celebration. Now it is time for the hero to return home with the found treasures.
There is great purpose in this journey. Despite our fear and our discomfort, we are able, we are strong, and we are brave. Through your example and your sacrifice, we will never forget the freedom we all have to be who we are meant to be, one step at a time. One day at a time.
To the heroes among us and within us, Happy Memorial Day.