“Remember, we are affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is a supreme creative act.” -Ram Dass
As we approach the anniversary of COVID arriving and disrupting our world, I think back upon the year that was. Time seems to warp and bend more than usual as I reflect on the past months. There are some dramatic moments I remember clearly- James getting sick in March, our medical practices closing down for two months late spring and the accompanying uncertainty, selling our home during a pandemic and moving to a new home in December. Then there are so many less defined moments that seem to blend together like the individual notes of a musical chord- cooking and cooking and cooking for my family, hiking, playing games, being anxious and returning to center and connecting with friends and family on Zoom.
For most of us, this year has been a graduate level course in life. The lessons have come at a furious pace and have been complex. We have been forced to reckon with uncertainty. Death has felt more present than usual. You may be grieving- from the loss of a loved one, a job or a way of life. (If so, I send you love and a warm hug across the miles). In many ways, our institutions seem to be crumbling. And yet, there has been great beauty too. Time with our immediate families and animals. Space to notice the changing seasons and the unique beauty of whatever lies outside our own back door. The rhythm of life changed.
Each of us has been called to walk our own hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell said, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” The hero’s journey is a spiral. We set out on an unknown road, encounter great trials and may even lose our way for a time. And when all seems lost, we have a moment of revelation. We learn from the suffering and transmute it. We rise. And then we share our knowing and transform the world.
Now you may be thinking that you are still in the suffering part and be asking, “When is this going to end? How do I get to the rising?” Each journey is different. And I think each of us is on many journeys simultaneously. The cycle of falling, rising and transformation is happening for each of us in every breath and in different areas of our life each day.
Somehow, leaning into the hero’s journey and understanding everyone is traversing this spiral offers comfort. “Where we thought to travel outwards we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone we shall be with all the world.” (Joseph Campbell)
Key in the hero’s journey seems to be arriving at a moment where you have enough energy and perhaps a little wisdom to share with the world around you. The treasures of the journey are meant to be shared. We go inward in order to ultimately be in service to those around us. Ideally then, when we are in the abyss, a hero at a more energized moment in their journey can offer us some wisdom or assistance. Emily Dickenson said “I scarcely know where to begin, but love is always a safe place.”
The ups and downs of the past year have helped me remember truth I have come to understand at various moments in my life, most often when I am feeling lost or low. When in doubt, serve with love. Check in on an elderly friend or relative. Make an extra lasagna for your neighbor. Love your family well. In this way, your actions positively impact the field around you. This is how we begin to heal and collectively move towards transformation.
May we remain vital and steady in the coming days. May we love ourselves, our family, our neighbors and those we think we don’t yet know. Let’s meet in the liminal space and remind one another of our light and our capacity for service, love and amazing ingenuity.
“Out beyond ideas of right and wrongdoing,
there is a field, a singing field.
I’ll meet you there. -Rumi