The Hero’s Journey


The Hero’s Journey consists of doing what needs to be done in each situation as it arises.

The Cyclops that stands in our way is always the next thing that we don’t want to do.

Do we have what it takes to get up and do the thing without the boost of a Powdermilk Biscuit?

Can we step into our lives day after day

and do there what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done?

We long for a different life, a better life, a more thrilling, fun, life, an easier life.

All we get is this old stinky life with our name on it.

Do we have what it takes to live this life the way it needs to be lived?

Do we have what it takes to live this life that only we can live—

the life we are better equipped to live than anyone else could live it in our place?

We want to tag out and take to the hammock,

while the Hero’s Journey waits to be trod.


The soil is not deep along the Blue Ridge Parkway,

the rocks are numerous,

the Blackberry vines are thick and persistent.

It takes a resilient spirit to make it under these conditions,

a strong back, a stout heart.

Life is hard.

We prefer easy.

Quick and easy.

Smooth and easy.

Shortcuts everywhere.





Joseph Campbell said,

“It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses.”

The Cyclops appears before us

In 10,000 disguises.

The Appalachian wilderness is one.

Whatever is difficult about our life is another.

And we are asked to look it in the eye,

And face it straight up.

To bear the pain!

To square up to the discrepancy between how things are

and how you wish they were!

Stand up and do the thing that needs to be done—

That needs us to do it—

in each situation as it arises!

It will grow us up.

It is the only thing that will.


We are here to live our life,

the life that only we can live,

the life that needs us to live it.

The problem is that we want to live a different life.

How do we want what we ought to want and not what we want?

This is the Hero’s Journey,

the Spiritual Quest,

the Search for the Holy Grail and the Promised Land.

And, it is the task of maturity—

what growing up is all about.

Our life is never any more difficult than coming to terms with what we don’t want,

With what we don’t like about our life.

This doesn’t mean that we are to want it, like it,

But that we make our peace with having what we don’t want/like in our life.

We can have some terrible things to deal with that nobody would ever ought to want or like.

We have to face up to and deal with all of the things we don’t want in,

and don’t like about our life,

instead of running, hiding, denying, pretending, making believe in a Delta Dawn Kind Of Way

that we can have the life we want

if we can only find the magical recipe, formula, secret to immunity against all that is unwanted and unlikeable.

We have to wade into the Unwanted and Unlikeable

and do what we can with it.

This is the Hero’s Task, the Spiritual Journey, Growing Up:

Living our life in the midst of the unordered, unasked for, unwanted stuff that comes our way,

And doing what can be done to ameliorate the situation for the good of all.


Carl Jung said, “We are who we have always been, and who we will be.”

We aren’t working to become who we are not, but who we are.

Joseph Campbell said that the wasteland is where everyone

is being someone else’s idea of who they are supposed to be,

and no one is living her, or his, own authentic life.

The search for the Holy Grail and the Promised Land—

the Hero’s Journey and the Spiritual Quest—

is the search for our own voice,

our own life,

so that we do our own thinking, and feeling and deciding and doing and believing—

and the life we live is not what we are told to live,

but what comes forth from our own heart and soul.

The Path is the path of True Human Being-hood.

Human beings who are true to themselves are as true as it gets.


We are here for more than hanging out until we die.

We are here to unfold, emerge, come forth—

to discover who we are and what we are capable of—

to dig ourselves up, bring ourselves out.

We do it by following the white rabbits,

and by challenging ourselves to do

the things that intrigue us,

attract us,

beckon to us,

test us.

We cannot pass up a test of our mettle

because it’s hard, or threatening, or fearsome.

“It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses.

It takes the darkness to bring forth the light.

Our life is an adventure,

and a lot more interesting than hanging out at some mall until we die.


Fear and laziness keep us stuck in place, miserable but not quite cold enough to get up and get a blanket.

We aren’t what you would call real happy with our life as it is,

but what good would it do to try to change things?

Besides, we might make things worse!

There could be dragons roaming beyond the city limits sign!

Better to stay where we are, complaining.

Not really.

It is actually better to find what we’re made of.

We are back to the Joseph Campbell line: “It took the Cyclops to bring the hero out in Ulysses.”

Fear and laziness keep us from finding the hero within.

We have to see what we can do with our life in the time left for living.

Forget playing it safe!

Go for interesting and meaningful every chance you get!

Bring on the Cyclops and the dragons!

Show them what you can do!


If money were manna and we gathered just enough for our needs of the day,

how much would it take?

Of course, money is not manna,

and we don’t know how many days there will be,

so we have to pile up as much money as we can manage,

against the time when none is coming in and all is going out. but.

The question remains: How much does it take?

Food, clothing, shelter, lights, water, gas, entertainment…

It all adds up quickly.

To how much?

How much do we need to meet the demands of life in the world AND do the work that is ours to do?

The research I’m familiar with suggests around $75,000 a year for a family of four.

Teachers average around $35,000.

Two teachers married with kids have to have a second job to make it.

You see what the economy and culture are doing to us.

The stress of not having enough money even though we are gainfully employed

to meet the legitimate expenses of running a household

robs us of our perspective and burdens our soul.

The cumulative impact of not having enough money

to meet all of the needs we are responsible for meeting

weighs us down and keeps us from being alive.

Something else to square up to.

Another Cyclops in our path.

How do we make more and spend less?

How do we find the financial resources we need to do what is truly ours to do

on the two levels of life (Food, clothing, shelter and soul)?

The first task is to find the help we need to live the life that is ours to live,

but where that help is not to be found,

we are up against it with nowhere to turn.

It is at this point that we have to master the art

of sitting quietly,

holding everything in our awareness,

until something shifts—

perhaps in our perspective—

and we are able to get up and do what needs to be done.


The things we like about the people we like

are the things that set them apart,

that stand them out,

that identify them,

characterize them,

make them who they are.

We like their uniqueness,

their individuality,

their special take on things.

We don’t go for bland, tasteless, dull, boring, paper doll people.

We prefer the company of those who have a style, and a perspective, all their own.

Then we work to be like everybody we know.

We want to look like, think like, believe like, and do like everybody else.

We take our cues from the crowd,

shed our unique colors and hues and blend in,

become invisible.

What are we thinking?

The Wasteland is where everybody is doing what they are supposed to do (Joseph Campbell)

thinking what they are supposed to think,

believing what they are supposed to believe,

saying what they are supposed to say.

That is the land of death and decay.

Don’t live there.

Don’t even visit.

Hone your own point of view.

Cut your own path.

Make your own way.

Find your own life and live it.

That is the certain path of the Hero’s Journey.


One of the characteristic features of human beings

is that we aren’t interested in anything we can’t exploit to our own advantage.

We try to turn everything into our advantage, but.

What’s the advantage of having advantages?

We turn everything into money, but.

What do we turn money into?

Addiction? Distraction? Diversion, Denial?

More money?

We are living a life that has nothing to do with the life we are called to live.

Who does the calling?

We do.

We call ourselves to live a life we aren’t interested in living

because we cannot exploit it for our own advantage.

We are divided this way.

At odds to the core.

We want what we have no business having,

and know it when we go to the trouble of thinking about it.

So, who is guiding our boat on it’s path through the sea?

We are.

That’s why we go in circles, capsize, run aground or sink.

And that makes the spiritual journey

the work of aligning ourselves with ourselves,

making peace within,

squaring up with who we are and also are,

reconciling ourselves with our invisible twin within,

and living consciously in accord the life that is left to be lived.


How alive can we be in the time left for living?

We owe it to ourselves to find out.

Carl Jung says, “There is within each of us another whom we do not know.”

This Unknown Other knows what it means for us to be alive.

Our work is to know what he, what she, knows—

to align ourselves with his, with her, will for our life (which is to embrace our Destiny)—

take up the Hero’s Journey (which is the Spiritual Quest)—

and discover what we are made of and what we are about.

Our work in the time left for living is to find our life—

the life that is truly our life,

the life with our name on it,

the life we are built and called to live,

that no one but us can live—

and live it.

We are Odysseus, Ulysses, Jesus and the Buddha,

searching for the life that waits for us to live it.

We only have to believe that it is so,

and act as though it is,

to discover the wonder of the gold in the worthless stone we had taken our lives to be.

Knowing/believing/trusting the truth of the value of the life yet to be lived

sets us free to live it,

and transforms us,

and the world.


We work out all of the discrepancies,

reconcile the opposites,

integrate the contradictions,

come to terms with the discordances,

square up with the conflicts,

and make our peace with how things are and how things also are.

This is the Hero’s Task,

which is also called the Spiritual Journey, which is also called Growing Up.

The tools for the work are awareness, compassion, humor, playfulness, kindness, and the right kind of conversation with the right kind of people.

We do not get far in this work without the help of a community of the right kind of people.

I call this kind of community a “community of innocence,”

because it has nothing at stake in us—

it does not seek to exploit us, or any of its members, in any way.

It simply receives us well,

listens to us attentively,

asks us questions that enable us to say what we have to say,

and tells us what it has learned through its experience that may be helpful in our situation.

That’s it.

What we do with all of this is up to us.

Progress along the path cannot be hurried.

We proceed at our own pace,

in our own time,

waking up as we are able.

The community of innocence does not try to hurry us along,

but accompanies us kindly,

with compassion,

having nothing to gain and nothing to lose.


We only have to find our life and live it

while doing what it takes to maintain, sustain, our life in the world of normal, apparent, reality.

Life is lived on two levels.

Physical and spiritual.

Life on the physical level is food, clothing and shelter.

Life on the spiritual level is meaning and purpose.

We have to live on both levels at once.

This is called walking two paths at the same time.

As it currently stands, life on the physical level gets all the press,

and life on the spiritual level is thought to be what we do in church,

with the praying,

and the Bible study,

and the good deeds,

and the rule keeping

and the “Our God is better than your God” putdowns to all the other ways of thinking about God.

We have to change how we think about “spiritual.”

Spiritual is connection with the truth of who we (also) are and what we (also) are about—

with our destiny, with the life we are born (destined) to live—

within the world of physical reality.

It is what we are here for.

One way of cluing into what that might be is to ask for a dream.

No kidding.

Before going to sleep, ask for a dream:

“What area of life is my genius/gift best suited for?”

Take what the dream gives you.

See where it goes.

The basic strategy for the “spiritual journey”

(which is finding and living the life that is ours to live)

is to see where things go.

Start with the area of life your genius, or gift, is best suited for.

See where that takes you.

In so doing, you launch yourself on the adventure of your life.


There is the way things are,

and the way things also are,

and what we can do about it,

and that’s that.

Either we can take it or we can’t.

The hero’s task is to do all that can be done about the way things are, and also are, and let that be that.

Squaring ourselves up with life’s inevitables,

and refusing to allow the things we cannot do anything about

stop us from doing what can be done about the things we can do something about

 is the high calling of being human.

Anybody can say, “No, I am not going to live on these terms.”

Everybody can imagine a world that is better than the one they live in.

We are asked to live in this world just as it is,

and work to make it better for our being in it.

The Hero’s Journey.


We don’t have to worry about what we should do to become more spiritual,

or make progress on the spiritual journey.

We only need to do the next thing well and see where it goes.

We only need to attend the next situation as it arises,

and assist its coming forth in ways that are unique to us,

that come natural to us.

The work that is ours to do,

and the life that is truly ours to live,

are commensurate with the gift,

with the genius,

that are ours to use in the service of the good of all.

The work finds us as the wand chooses the wizard.

We don’t go in search of what is ours to do, maybe this, maybe that.

We simply do what needs to be done here and now

in ways that utilize the gifts that are ours to serve/give,

and see where that takes us.

The gifts, genius, work, life will be a boon to all,

but their real import is to wake us up, bring us forth, introduce us to ourselves.

We are here to be who we are and also are for the good of the whole—

and we live our way to this end

by doing the next thing that needs to be done

as we can do it,

and going where that takes us.


The Hero’s Journey and the Spiritual Quest

is the trek to the Land of Promise

and the Search for the Holy Grail.

We are looking for the life that is ours to live in the time left for living,

and the courage to live it.

If you were looking for “fortune and glory,”

this is as fortunate and as glorious as it gets:

Living the life that is ours to live.

There are no shortcuts (Long is short, short is long)—

it is a lifelong process that is interesting and meaningful all the way,

and provides us with just what we need

to do what truly needs to be done in each situation as it arises.

Don’t think in terms of outcome, and arrival, and getting there.

Think in terms of vitality, and movement, and the dynamic flow of life.

There is no static mode of being.

Death is the only steady state.

Living is like taking “a ride on the wall of death” (Check out the Richard Thomas song),

but it is not being dead.

And hints, clues, signs are everywhere.

Everything is a key that opens some door.

The Way meanders, winds and wanders,

loops, reverses itself, and covers the same old ground,

so that we might see what we missed before.

There is no hurry and there is no time to waste—

and here is as good as there,

now is as good as then.

The path opens before those who are open to the path,

and it starts when you open your eyes.


The Hero’s Journey, the Spiritual Quest,

leads you to you,

to who you also are,

to the Invisible Twin within.

We cannot get there directly.

It is a round-a-bout and curious way that leads us home.

We have to leave home to find home.

This sounds like doubletalk,

as though I’m being deliberately abstruse and obscure

like some ancient text.

This is because poetry is more appropriate

than direct discourse when we are talking about soul stuff.

We talk in seeming circles

because the left hemisphere cannot comprehend what words cannot say,

and this is a right hemisphere journey—

a round-a-bout and curious way—

all the way.

We circle around the center like a 3 D labyrinth.

There is no straight path.

We already are who we are and who we also are,

the trick is waking up to that,

and know it for the first time.

It takes a lifetime of living with our eyes open to master the trick.

It’s like growing up.

We don’t grow up just because our parents tell us, “Won’t you please grow up!?”

We don’t grow into who we also are

just because we are in the mood for something different,

and think we’ll try spirituality for a while.

There is a lot of coming to terms with how things are

on the trail that winds to the center of the Self.

We have to set ourselves aside to find our Self.

It’s like that all the way.


Waking up is squaring up is growing up.

Waking up to how things are

is waking up to how things also are.

Recognizing the opposites

without denying them or pretending they don’t exist

is living in the tension,

the polarity,

of contraries,

and to live there is to integrate the opposites,

to reconcile them—if not to each other, then to ourselves.

WE adjust,

WE adapt,

WE accommodate ourselves to the oppositional facts of life,

And put ourselves in accord with the way things are.

This is squaring up, growing up.

Growing up is another name for the Hero’s Journey, the Spiritual Quest.

Enlightenment is coming to terms with how things are and how they also are—

which is not how we wish they were.

William Blake said “Without contraries is no progression.”

We grow through our agony over the contradictions

that block our way to how we want things to be.

The agony is the price we pay to wake up,

square up,

grow up,

get up

and do the things that truly need to be done

in spite of what we wish we were doing instead.

This is the path we walk daily

in the work to be like the master

by being ourselves and following no master.


The way that waits for us

competes with the 10,000 ways

hawking happiness,

promising prosperity,

boasting of bliss and everlasting ease of living.

It’s the story of the Garden of Eden.

We think there is something better than paradise,

and will trade what is ours in a flash for what we had rather have.

What keeps us on the way that is our way

past the Sirens’ song offering so much more?

Eyes that see. Ears that hear. A heart that understands.

How many times would Adam and Eve be fooled again

before they wise up,

having heard the serpent’s spiel enough to know better than to listen?

We wake up over time.

It takes every step we have taken to be where we are.

If we could be somewhere else, we would be.

And when we awaken, the task is the same:

To be alive as we can be in the time left for living.

And, now we know more about what it means to be alive than we ever knew before,

so we won’t make all those wrong turns,

and have all those false starts.

The path to where we are going always begins under our feet.

We only have to see things as they are (and also are),

be clear and correct about what needs to be done in each situation as it arises,

and have the courage to do it.


In finding our way back home, to the treasure we seek—which is our self—we have to set ourselves aside.

“Home” is a metaphor for “Self.”

We get to us through us,

past all the resistance and obstacles we put in our own way.

We have to step aside,

and there we are!

We are our best friend and worst enemy,

and our work is to integrate, reconcile, live aligned and in harmony with ourselves.

Our two tools for the work are awareness and compassion.

Rumi’s poem “The Guest House” is a wonderful synopsis of the work that is ours to do.

The path to peace with ourselves

requires us to develop the gift that is ours to give

(It is not the one we wish were ours to give)

and develop our sense of what truly needs to be done now

in each situation as it arises

(It is not what we have been told should be done,

or what we want to do).

In doing these things,

we will be developing our relationship with the invisible Other within,

and finding our joint way together

to the life that is our joint life to be lived

in the time left for living.

This is epic stuff we are about

and has close parallels with all of the adventure stories about the Hero’s Journey.

It is our own Odyssey we are embarking upon.

It will not be like a quick trip to the grocery store.


The spiritual journey is never more difficult than growing up.

Growing up is changing our minds about what is important.

Shifting our point of view, our perspective.

Evaluating our values.

Doing what needs to be done in each situation as it arises.

How long do we put off the inevitable?

Doing our taxes.

Mowing the lawn.

Cleaning the bathroom.

Dodging the odious things in life is not conducive to spiritual growth,

but too much that passes for spirituality raises itself above the odious without engaging it.

Acceptance that does nothing about what needs to be done is denial.

Those who are spiritually grown up wade right into the doing.

If the baby’s diaper needs changing,

we change it when it needs to be changed,

the way it needs to be changed.

No whining, moaning, complaining, just doing.

Size up the moment and do what needs to be done.

That’s as spiritual as it gets.


We all have to grow up,

and the longer we wait to begin the work,

the harder it gets.

Growing up is waking up, facing up, squaring up

to how things are and how things also are,

and how we wish things were.

It is seeing clearly what truly needs to be done in each situation as it arises,

and having the courage to do it.

It is knowing what our gift is,

our genius,

the thing(s) we do best

that no one can do quite like we can do it (them),

and offering that,

presenting that,

as our gift to the world

 no matter how often the world refuses to acknowledge or receive it.

It is living in ways that do not try to exploit the situation to our advantage,

but seek to serve the good of the whole—

which includes our own good, but not at the expense of everyone else’s.

It is drawing lines where they need to be drawn,

knowing where we stop and others start,

and refusing to do for others what they have to do for themselves.

It is living amid the opposites and contradictions

without trying to erase them,

but working to integrate them, reconcile them,

while respecting them

and understanding the role they play in deepening, expanding, enlarging us all

and growing us up, even against our will.

This is our work to do.

No one can do it for us.

It’s up to us.

Now is as good a time as any to step into it and see what we can do.


Carl Jung said, “We are who we always have been, and who we will be.”

Jim Dollar says, “I had to be who I was in order to be who I am, and I have to be who I am, in order to become who I will be.”

Jung and Dollar are both correct.

There is continuity through all of the phases and periods of our life.

A theme runs through every scene, every developmental stage.

And everything goes into the production of the person we are, and become.

As an increasingly older person,

I think back on the follies, mistakes, wrong turns and poor decisions of my youth, and cringe.


Here. I. Am.

I got me here by the only means available at the time: Me.

I am confident that the same truth applies to you.

It took being who we were to be who we are.

Who I also am was working to moderate, rein in and grow up who I was,

And kept me from becoming who I might have been.

That which is constant within us

Works with what is actual, potential and possible

To create who we become.

The degree to which we consciously cooperate

With our own becoming

By mindfully putting ourselves in accord

With the center, ground, and foundation

Of our life and being,

Within the conditions and circumstances of the life we are living,

Constitutes the range and reach

of the Hero’s Journey.

The Hero’s Journey, Spiritual Quest, Search for the Promised Land and the Holy Grail, and the Work that Is Ours To Do (These are all the same thing)

depend upon our learning the language of the invisible world, of the invisible Other within, of the Psyche/Soul.

This world speaks to us through our body, in our dreams, by way of coincidence and Synchronicity,

and calls to us with white rabbits and strange notions.

We have to be alert. The foundational rule of the Hero’s Journey (etc.) is:

Pay Attention!

If we are going to be alive in the time left for living, we have to be awake.

We have to look until we see.

Listen until we hear.

Ask questions that lead us to more questions,

And engage in reflections that result in realizations.

We have to Pay Attention, Be Awake, Ask Questions and Take Chances all along the way.

Start with your body.

Listen to it.

Let your physical sensations, muscle tightness, headaches, shivers, sneezes, pain, etc.,

lead you to listening to what they have to say.

A good guide for this kind of exercise is “The Power of Focusing,” by Ann Weiser Cornell.

A tool for the journey.


We grow up against our will—if we grow up at all.

Growing up is another name for the Hero’s Journey, the Spiritual Quest.

It is the only thing standing between us

and life as enlightened, compassionate, healed and whole human beings.

Don’t let the terms “healed” and “whole” fool you.

We walk with a limp,

and carry the scars of those who have been through hell to be where we are.

Jesus in the wilderness and Gethsemane and on Golgotha, you know.

We find our equivalents in a thousand places. But.

The alternative is much worse for everyone.

The refusal to grow up is the source of all of our problems today, every day.

We have to do our part for there to be any hope at all.

Our part is waking up, facing up, squaring up to the conflict within

over not wanting to do what needs to be done in each situation as it arises.

Our cross to bear is doing what needs to be done whether we want to or not.

If the dog throws up on the carpet, we clean it up.

We don’t wait to want to.

Our life is like the dog throwing up on the carpet.

Get the paper towels and the bowl of water and go to work.

There is work to be done that only we can do.

The real work is recognizing that

 and saying, “Okay. Let’s go.”

The first step on the Hero’s Journey.


It’s always safer and more comfortable to stay stuck in place.

We may be depressed and empty, but we know what to expect.

There is nothing unknown and anxiety-producing about our situation.

The future is the past forever,

and we don’t have anything to worry about that we aren’t well practiced in worrying about.

No new worries is worth every sacrifice.

So embrace those dull routines!

Nail shut those doors!

Repeat the mantra: Nothing New Or Out Of The Ordinary Ever And Ever Amen!

Otherwise, the risk will be unbearable.

Open the door to your future, step over the threshold and “Beyond This Point There Be Dragons,” or worse.

 Stay with the drudgery and the boredom.

Do what is expected of you.

Do not have a fresh idea.

Do not flirt with the possibilities.

Do not imagine a better world.

Do not wonder what you could do if you tried.

Do not dream of flying.

And, above all, do not under any circumstances follow a white rabbit anywhere.

Living to be alive in the time left for living

will jeopardize the life you have worked so hard to order and arrange.

What would all those plastic people,

with their worn script of clichés and platitudes,

do without you to play your part in their world?

Go back to your duties.

Find your place.

Read your lines.

Be safe.

And if it begins to feel a little like being dead,

well, that’s a small price to pay for the everlasting peace predictability provides.


The help we receive from the invisible world does not make things easy.

It makes things possible, doable.

It enables us to do what is hard.

The Hero’s Journey (the Spiritual Quest—it’s all the same)

isn’t about doing what is easy.

It would be called the Slacker’s Stroll, then.

The Hero’s Journey is about doing what is hard.

The help we get along the way helps us do what is hard—

not avoid it, dodge it, escape from it and hide.

Doing what is hard grows us up

(What the Hero’s Journey and the Spiritual Quest are all about).

No one ever grew up doing what was easy.

No one ever produced anything that has never been—

which is exactly what the life that needs you to live it does—

by doing what was easy.

Easy is out of the picture.

Hard is everywhere you look.

But that isn’t a problem, because you have all the help you need to do it.

You just have to wade into it.

Doing what’s hard is what you’ll do best before it’s over.

And the world will be transformed by your work,

and your life will be interesting and meaningful—

which it would never have been if you had lolled poolside the whole time,

ordering fruit smoothies.


No one can tell us, show us, hand us what is meaningful.

We know it on our own.

If we are living meaningless, empty lives, it’s our own fault.

We said “No” too many times to too many things.

We said “No!” to things that were “Yes,”

and we knew it but.

We allowed our principles to stop us,

or our responsibilities,

or our concern for what Those Who Know Best would say,

or our desire for profit at any price.

Or we turned away because our Mama or Daddy wouldn’t approve,

or because we couldn’t afford it,

or because our circumstances wouldn’t allow it…

When we let someone else set the course of our life,

we are headed for empty and meaningless.

When we live in a hole,

or a corner,

because we will not unleash our imagination

in spite of our circumstances,

we resign ourselves to empty and meaningless.

There is a price to be paid for living a meaningful life—

some risks have to be accepted,

some chances taken.

The Hero’s Journey is not for the faint-hearted,

the timid and shy.

It is for those who realize there is nothing really to lose

so why hold anything back.

The good news is that it is never too late to start living meaningful lives.

The question for us is always the same at every point in our lives:

How alive can you be in the time left for living?

We owe it to ourselves to find out.


Neither the Universe

Nor the Hero’s Journey

Are anything to fear.

We have all the necessary tools and gifts

at our disposal,

waiting for the situation to arise

that calls them forth

and actualizes them

as sources of wonder and grace

in the time and place of our living.

We have no idea where life

comes from,

or where it goes,

or if it goes anywhere.

Not one of all the atoms

which make us up

is alive.

Cosmic dust is just dust.

How does life get into the mix?

No. One. Knows.

And it is readily apparent

that every living thing

comes into this world

knowing its business

and how to do it.

Everything from Humpback Whales,

to Garden Spiders,

to Long Leaf Pine Trees,

to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

comes with a psychic blueprint

embedded in its cellular DNA

lying latent and waiting to be realized

at the right time and place

to the astonishment of onlookers

and the individual involved alike.


Religion calls its theories “doctrines,”

and presents them as factual truth,

which have to be “taken on faith.”

That should be enough to turn all thinking people away,


religion also tells us

that if we believe its theories

(that is, take them on faith),

we will be accorded heaven’s everlasting glories when we die

(another theory),

and if we don’t,

we will be punished with hell’s eternal agonies

(another theory).

And, then there is the one about

blessings and merit being bestowed on believers

both in this life and in the life to come.

It all adds up to

“What do you have to lose?”

But, “What do you have to lose?”

is not the same thing as a vision of mythic proportions

propelling us into the service and expression

of the life that is ours to live.

Theories/doctrines are not necessary–

and are profound impediments–

to the experience of being gripped

by an encounter with the Numen

and claimed by a will not our own.

This is the out-breaking of the genetic imprint

of who we are to be

encoded in our DNA,

and waiting for the right conjunction of time and circumstance

to wake up and call us forth to embrace our destiny.

If you are going to adopt a theory,

adopt this one.

And explore its possibilities for your life

like Luke Skywalker finding his way

to Jedi knighthood.

No heaven, no hell, just your life

needing you to live it.


The Psyche is divided at the core.

Ambivalence and contradiction reside

at the level of our heart and soul.

We want contrary things–

what we want, and what we ought not want,

and what we ought to want.

Each of us is a split personality,

with the mission of reconciling the opposites,

integrating the polarities,

and exhibiting oneness, wholeness and completion

throughout our life.

This is the work of the Hero’s Journey,

undertaken with mindful, compassionate, awareness,

and the capacity to simply be with whatever is–

without being taken over by it,

but waiting for the right action to arise

“in the fullness of time,”

out of “the middle way,”

of transcendence and harmony.

In the meantime,

we bear consciously the agony–the agone–

of being afraid when we have nothing to fear,

of having to have when there is nothing we need,

of wanting to hide when we only need to face what is before us…

The psychic path encoded in our DNA

calls for us to make conscious the irrational forces

at work within,

in the service of the inner evolution of the species.


The Buddha said, “There is a lot that we cannot do anything about.”

Or, words to that effect.

We are inundated,


hemmed in

and battered by

all of the things we cannot do anything about

everyday from all sides.


None of that can keep us from

being who we are

on the heaving waves

of the wine dark sea

of things we cannot do anything about.

We can meet it head on as who we are.

Jesus said, “Be who the situation needs you to be,

and don’t worry about the outcome!”

Or, words to that effect.

If you can find better advice,

take it!


We are limited,


by our options

and our choices.

We don’t get to choose our choices,

and that’s the bump

that ruins the ride.

We have to work

with the options we have to work with.

How many of them, really,

will take us where we want to go?

We don’t get to bail out

of this life with these choices

into some other,

bigger, finer, better life

with better choices.

Coming to terms with our options,

and making the best choices possible

among those that are available to us,

is the heart of the Hero’s Journey.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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