Slaying Our Dragons - Finding Joe MoviePeople love the hero’s journey.  It’s the stuff of legends and oral history, religions and movies, novels and poetry, spiritual memes and merchandising empires.  We love the thought of going out on a quest to find something and then failing or succeeding (depending on if you prefer comedy or tragedy) and coming home to tell the tale.  I like the poem Ulysses in part because the hero comes home, sees what’s waiting for him now that he’s done with his journey, shudders, and then picks up his gear and leaves again.  He may have been an a**hole, but at least he was honest about who he was. (And the poem is cool.  Check out the ending)

The thing is, the hero’s journey is romantic and glorious, glossy and fun to watch from afar, but like war, is far from glorious when you’re the sorry, bedraggled hero trudging across every mile.  Those battle wounds hurt, those scars are hard won, the ability to swing a sword, to survive on dried bread and jerky, the struggle to find water, to keep yourself together, those things aren’t fun.  They are hard.  The spiritual journey is not for the weak at heart and it’s hardest when we get to the grunt work.

It’s easy to change the things we don’t care about or the things that we’ve already prepared to do without or get rid of.  It’s hard to change the things we think of as our identity, the habits we rely on to get through the day, the ways we have perceived things, the methods we have used to survive all these years.  It’s hard to give up what seems to work for something that is unproven.  It’s difficult to trade in the safe for the unknown.  Even if the safe is killing us slowly, even if the safe no longer is…safe…

Sometimes the spiritual journey reaches a point where we can’t go any further until we deal with what’s in front of us, which is us.  There are times in the journey when we need to reevaluate.  We need to sit down and take stock of what we’re carrying around with us.  Do we really need it?  Is it helping?  Is it too much weight and what is keeping us from our goal?  It’s not even about the road, but about the way in which we are traveling it.  Yes, the thought of the tale we are creating and how great it will be to tell it by the fire when we’re done, when we’ve reached our destination, when we can finally rest, is the sugar that sweetens the medicine.  But we do have to take the medicine.  The work has to be done, which means that sometimes we have to stop trying to take that next step and be where we are, taking stock of what needs to get done so we can move on.