The idea of the hero's journey has been surfacing for me a lot lately. Likely because I moved back home six months ago after almost two decades of living elsewhere...and swearing I would never live in San Diego again. Yet here I am and thankful for my departure, initiation, and return.
In the hero's journey, a character leaves home and sets out into the unknown. The initiation comes in the form of trials that set the person on a path of transformation. Through the trials, the hero loses much of her innocence but gains wisdom, knowledge, and gifts. Upon returning, the hero now integrates all of her learnings into daily life and finds ways to share her wisdom with the world.
A couple weeks after returning from my trip to Peru, I had a clear and strong calling to leave my job. Walking back into work after two weeks unplugged in the Amazon jungle, I realized I couldn't do it anymore. Couldn't commute in traffic for two hours a day, sit at a desk for eight hours, and feel so drained when I got home that I didn't have the energy to exercise or engage in activities that nourished me. There was no room for creativity and fun and play in my life. "This isn't how I want to live," I thought to myself.
When my nephew passed away, everything in my world shifted. He was only here with us for three and a half months, and yet he changed everything. I signed up for the trip to Peru, I grieved for him and for all of the losses before him that I hadn't grieved (like losing my own two babies before they were born). I couldn't just go through the motions of life anymore. I had to take ownership and create a life that I loved. To honor Jaxon.
And so, I gave notice at my job and let my landlord know that I would be leaving. I started the process of packing up a life I had lived in the bay area for fifteen years. I said my goodbyes. And I moved home. I wanted to simplify and find a way to live softer, more slowly. I traveled and focused on taking care of myself. I spent lots of time with family and going to yoga and the beach. I retreated into myself, to fill my inner well so that when I started to offer my gifts again, I would be giving from excess and not my reserves.
The irony of the Hero's Journey is that while it appears to be an external adventure out in the world, in reality it is the inner work of coming home to self. Being comfortable with who we are. Finding home within. No matter where in the world we may be.