The Searching Journey
From a summary of the steps of the Hero’s Journey, as presented by Joseph Campbell:
“The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person’s lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.”
Being an artist puts me always in the “belly of the whale” it seems, which I love, actually. I am constantly in a state of metamorphosis, whether I’m aware of it or not. While I think that’s true, to varying degrees, for all of us, it seems to be a necessity for me—for the artist in me. I must search, always. And I think that comes from my artist’s soul.
I really believe the life of an artist is something of a “hero’s journey.” To genuinely make art we must, as Joseph Campbell says, “leave the known limits of our world and venture into an unknown realm where the rules and limits are not known.” In order to “follow our bliss” we must find where it is and be willing to go there. As you all know, that’s not as simple as it may sound.
The artist’s life itself, with its inherent financial instability and other insecurities, asks that we have faith. We must continue to believe even when we can’t see our next step, when the path has become obscured. We must be willing to separate ourselves from what is known and find some form of comfort there.
Today I stop and listen to the stillness of this land. I hear the raven’s wing cut through the air. I taste new snow on my lips and catch the scent of aged juniper carried in the frozen water molecules that lace the winter sky. I feel the spirits of those who went before.
And I am transported to my own landscape within, to the very real beating of my heart. I breathe in and out and marvel at the beauty and challenge of this remarkable gift of an artist’s life. It brings with it an acute awareness, an opening of everything that is me–the proverbial blessing and curse, truth be told. But whichever I am experiencing at any given moment, I cherish it, this intense sensitivity that makes me an artist.
My feet stand grounded on this ancient earth and I sink deep tap roots into the heart of a land that has become my home. Perhaps this is the gift that Spirit brings, so that I can tolerate the constantly shifting landscape of my artist’s interior. But I find myself deeply grateful for that very uncertainty. I don’t think there is any other way for me than this: to enter a constant realm of change—my own hero’s journey—that strengthens me and brings me to clarity time and time again—which, in its turn, brings me face to face with my artist’s soul.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful beyond reasoning for the path I walk. And I wish for you your own hero’s journey, whatever form it may take, however uncomfortable it may feel. May we all walk in gratitude for a truth we uncover time and time again; for the path that takes us there.
Love to you all,