“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Originally Written in 2009:
I’ve always enjoyed quest stories, stories in which the somewhat innocent naive protagonist through undertaking a series of adventures reaches a defined goal (returning home, finding his/her fortune, destroying the one ring etc) and comes out enlightened in some manner. Perhaps reading these stories becomes in some sense a form of religious ritual for me. I imagine myself in the shoes of the hero or heroine. I become Jack going up the beanstalk and escaping from the giant. I find myself, stuck to the tar baby like Br’er Rabbit begging Br’er Fox not to throw me into the briar patch. I can see myself as Aladdin, trapped in the cave rubbing the lamp to get it lit, Alice down the rabbit hole and Luke Skywalker taking that last desperate shot to destroy the Death Star. Their journeys too I have undertaken within my imagination. It doesn’t appear to be restricted to words on paper. Movies and TV shows can also spark my imagination tho somehow it doesn’t feel as effective.
I go into Chapel Perilous, seeking the grail only to find I must encounter the darkness inside myself. I sit down with the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse to find that their word puzzles and inverted logic reshapes my mind into new insights. I take peyote with Carlos Castaneda and jump across the abyss. I fight their demons, both inner and outer (assuming for a moment that there exists a difference). If in facing their demons and perhaps by doing so discover and confront my down, can I claim a piece of the enlightenment at the end.
Since writing this I have danced with my darkness and cried with it… confronted and lied with it…felt numb and then enlivened and several points…I find that I am repeating many of the old lessons again , perhaps with more awareness or is that my illusion… I have seen the hero in the ordinary man and seen mundaneness in heroes. What better way to realize that we embody both and we can be so much more and are becoming so…We all exist on the hero’s journey, the grail quest whether we know it or not…
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