The Hero’s Journey

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”- Bertha Calloway, Founder of the Great Plains Black Museum

 How do you see yourself in the story of your life?

Do you see yourself as the victim of your circumstances, riding on the waves that life sends crashing to the shore? Caught in a hurricane, a tidal wave, subject to the forces of nature, the forces of the universe conspiring to create a maelstrom of unhappiness or despair?

Do you see yourself as a hero? The rescuer of the downtrodden, the savior of the day? Superman and Wonder Woman all at once?

We are likely all a bit of both at one time or another, but not because the word “victim” or “hero” defines who we are. Rather, it is our own perception, the glasses we are viewing the world through coloring the vision we have.

At any time, we are all doing the best we can with what we have. We have little real control of the world, though we like to convince ourselves that we do. All while maintaining a stranglehold on ourselves, our relationships and our work; seeing life slip through our hands like grains of sand through our fingers. We hold on so tightly to the past, to the illusion of control, that all we are left holding is our own narrow, misconstrued view of the world.

Control. We can’t control the weather…this year’s tumultuous weather pattern across the planet makes that abundantly clear. We can’t control who we fall in love with, though we try, or our families try, or society tries to determine what is an acceptable definition of love or family.

We can’t control how we feel. The sadness that bubbles up and spills out of our eyes. The joy that overwhelms us. The anger and fear that takes us to the depths of darkness. Emotions are not inherently good or bad. They just are.

We can, however, control what we do in the face of weather, relationships and emotions. What we do, coming from a place of love, of compassion, of kindness for others and for ourselves. Getting up each day, living each moment, looking for the light and love and joy. Embracing the sorrow and sadness, but letting all of it go. Beginning again, in a new way, in each moment.

Truly, that’s all we have. Each moment. The here and now, the breath that we take. We are all like those grains of sand at the beach, so many together. Here for a time, then swept away by time and tide.

The Hero’s Journey? You are the hero of your own journey, whatever story that may be. Life has a way of handing you lessons, smacking you on the side of the head sometimes and sometimes gently whispering in your ear. You are here. You’ve had the courage to come into this world for however long your stay is. Survived loss and celebrated success, conquered mountains or simply managed to commute to work.

Each of these moments we have is a choice. Each moment a chance to love your neighbor, the community, the planet, Yourself.

So, grab your Wonder Woman belt. Be the Thor of your own life. Be one of those quiet angelic heroes who change the world. Be you from a place of love and kindness.

We all have the choice and the chance to make the world a better place.

susan schirl smith
Susan Schirl Smith is a writer, photographer and holistic nurse based in New Hampshire. Her essays have been published in Cognoscenti, Pangyrus, Silver Birch Press and The Journal of Holistic Nursing. Her photography has been featured in Barren Magazine and L’Ephemere Review. Smith’s current manuscript is Desperado, a memoir of her brother. You can follow Susan on her website or Facebook.

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