I sat down to write about The Return—ways to understand going back into the world. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks and got a little dizzy about state restrictions easing soon. Now something else is tapping out my keyboard.
It feels like we haven’t cooked enough in the huge pot of Initiation. This is the heart of the Hero’s Journey—where we go into unfamiliar territory, acquire all kinds of tests and lessons, have some kind of culminating experience, and prepare to re-enter the world with wisdom gained. It’s Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi. Hobbits going on a journey to destroy a ring. The journey of anyone in the military. The story of every marriage, gestation and birth, life span of a human—Initiation into a richer depth of who you are.
So consider what makes a ‘good story.’ It must have an essential and relatively difficult conflict that gets explored and resolved, often with something unexpected. It has universally recognized emotions unleashed from struggles of the heart. It reveals beauty or terror in a landscape. Tricky tests with a requisite failure. Someone important dies. Someone else important arrives. After much struggle, we let go of some idea or possession we thought we needed. Someone plays a trick. We get super lost followed by a riddle solved or a rescue earned. Someone haunting or pretty plays a song and we all get a beauty break. Something divine or sacred reveals itself. You figure out the one thing you needed all along. The red slippers click, the Force gets felt, the bad guy goes down with a lot of noise and bother, the lovers finally kiss.
In other words, we haven’t passed very many tests so far.
What we collectively know about how to proceed on this planet remains muddled. The rivers in Asia are running clear, and people there are seeing blue sky for the first time ever. Seismologists can hear the Earth more clearly. We newly appreciate the people who hold together the fabric of society. The vast inequalities in economic stability and access to healthcare are blatantly obvious. Solidarity has become more valuable than polarization. Scientists, researchers, and mathematicians are now cool. Maybe we should invest more in social and public services. Regulations in tele-medicine and education have become obviously irrelevant. We can improve how we hold elections. Government isn’t all bad; sometimes it is very, very important.*
So there are things you’d think we’d want to keep while proceeding. How will we do these things? Do you see any leaders conferring, publishing proposals, writing new laws, altering regulations, implementing structures? Let’s start with some civil and civic conversations, everywhere.
I want to be more ready than I think I actually am.
In May many of us can return to work and tentatively ‘gather.’ Have we been in the pot long enough to truly receive the wisdom? What’s more important, economic success or living the full experience of wisdom and potential? The former has been our driving force for over 200 years. Can we let that go, the thing we thought we needed. Can we acknowledge and accept what we really need, be like the lovers finally recognizing truth and a future.
You know where I stand on all this. I’m willing to sacrifice what dregs of financial stability I have left in service of the story, its wisdom and consciousness. Because this time I think the story is going to shift. This Return has got to be different than any story we’ve yet conceived. We need to be ready for that.
* Politico article on change opportunities