“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” —Joseph Campbell
The Heroine’s (or Hero’s) Journey is a recognizable framework. It’s been used in myths and stories throughout the ages and studied by scholars like Joseph Campbell.
In a nutshell, a regular person leading an ordinary life unexpectedly receives a call to action or adventure.
Her first response is “not on your life!” She refuses The Call. She’s scared to death. But circumstances can’t be ignored, and her participation can’t be denied. So, she gathers a band of supporters and forges ahead, still terrified but determined.
Through trials and tribulations, she overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds while answering The Call. She ultimately triumphs and returns home to her life, transformed.
It’s every bit an inward odyssey as it is an outside job. So, any Heroine worth her salt will tell you, “it’s the journey, not the destination.”
And what a journey 2020 has become.
In life with Covid, we’re learning something new or grieving loss at every turn. We’re getting reacquainted with partners and other family members as quarantine knits us together in a pod. We’re getting to know ourselves all over again as isolated days tick by.
The truest voice in times of crisis is our inner voice. You may have noticed that it’s speaking up a little more often, whispering a little louder. When you can’t go out, you turn inward.
I think we’re hearing the voice of the Inner Heroine during this Covid journey. And I, for one, am glad she’s here.
By the time we reach our 60s, we’ve been called to many difficult journeys: personal loss, financial famine, unstable health… the list goes on. Many of us have lived episodic lives marked by several turning points. I know I have.
But coping with this pandemic and the accompanying turmoil is not a Call we’d have chosen from a list of options. That’s typical for a Heroine.
Refusal of The Call is the first step on a Heroine’s Journey. We can’t believe it’s happening, wish it were different, hope it goes away. But The Call isn’t easily ignored, so we find a way to face it.
We seek out our helpers, because answering a Call is not a solitary undertaking. Heartfelt and trusted support becomes so important.
Crisis wakes us up. Changes everything. Crisis asks us to release what was, make some sense of what is, and begin to imagine what is to come. And, at some point (days, weeks, longer), we accept that we must simply forge ahead.
Human nature (aided by our modern culture) craves certainty. So, the Inner Heroine has her work cut out for her. She knows we must make peace with the unknown to successfully navigate uncharted, gray waters.
This part of the Journey lasts, well, as long as it lasts. Calendar time isn’t a factor. Even an Inner Heroine can’t select a date and call it the end point.
It’s during this sometimes-long-and-always-arduous leg of the Journey that the Inner Heroine reminds us what we’re made of. Grit, resilience. A long view, some perspective.
The Inner Heroine has slain a lot of dragons in her day.
So, she hands us the tools we’ve brought with us to craft a life littered with obstacles but forged in dreams, and she urges us to use them now. She inspires us to find needed resources we don’t already have.
She’s faced the fire, and she’s still here. We’ve dealt with adversity, and we’re still standing.
She often thinks about turning back during her Journey, but the Inner Heroine understands that’s not an option. She clings to a belief that this seemingly endless muck will bring transformation. That the changes in her, in a lot of things, could be for the better. She holds fast to faith and hope even as they’re tested.
At some point in this Dark Forest of uncertainty, she’ll be given a boon, the promise that her travails are somehow worth it. Once the fire’s out and the embers die, she’ll stand victorious. Bruised a little, maybe a lot, but more herself and stronger still. Able to share what she’s learned with others. Prepared to answer the next Call.
I believe the Inner Heroine stands with each of us… this year, every year, along each journey. I’ve come to depend on that while being tossed in a sea of the unknown. And I’m very happy to see her.
What Heroine’s Journeys have brought you to this point? What is your Inner Heroine teaching you during this unprecedented time? Join the conversation!