(for part one, click here)
As our conversation continued, he reflected on the events that are part of his life's tapestry. He was not sad, nor did he appear bitter. He said, "I know that I had to go through all that to get where I am now". "I see all these kids trying to become big time dealers, but none of them have the guts to do what it will take to get there," he mused. According to him, 'it's all good'. He believes that his experiences--the poor decisions and adversity--have taught him humility and to focus on what is most important, the next chapter in his life's story.
I asked if he knew what this next chapter is going to be. He responded definitively, "YES"! Through his church, he hosts 'Brother-to-Brother' conversations with young black men, who are at risk or seeking direction in their life. Through his testimony, he shares the reality of what life on the streets and in prison was like with these young men. They dialogue about the challenges they face daily, and develop action plans to stay out of danger. I was VERY impressed. He learned to develop strategies for sustainable change not in a classroom, but on the streets 'managing drug runners'. (Here I am spending thousands of dollars to receive a Master's degree in Organization Development (OD)). He is using knowledge and lessons learned from the streets to help others. He has reached the 'Freedom to Live' stage of the heroic monomyth (also known as the Hero's Journey).
|Joseph Campbell's monomyth or the Hero's Journey from his book- The Hero with a Thousand Faces|
Him? A hero? Yes, we are all heroes.
According to Joseph Campbell's theory of myth cycles, a hero answers a call and takes a journey from the known to an unknown world. Along the way, the hero faces tasks and trials that (s)he must face, either alone or with helpers, tools, maps, mentors, and enemies. The hero will face a severe challenge, a place (s)he must go because that is where the lesson is--the whole point of the quest. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or "boon"), which often results in the discovery of important self-awareness. The hero then decides whether to return (the return to the ordinary world) with this boon, often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon).
If you're having a hard time with how the journey happens, think Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Star Wars, The Matrix, Celie from Color Purple, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, Jesus Christ, and yes, your own life story. We've all had that hero's call to something that could possibly transform our lives. Those of us brave enough to answer the call, withstand the trials, and survive the challenge to receive the gift, also have a responsibility. We have to share what we have learned with others. We must do so with no regrets of the past and freedom from the bonds of space and time. We live in the present and make it count!
That's what this encounter at 7-Eleven was about. It was a reminder that I am on my own hero's journey. I have the opportunity to share what I have learned with others through this blog, thereby making my world a better place. There is more to come, so stay tuned. What about you? What journey are you on? Is there a journey you need to embark on, yet you resist or ignore it? Are you ready to answer the call?