One of the blessings from a tumultuous period in my life (between 2005 and 2009) was the emergence of understanding, gratitude and peace. Divorce, mental breakdown, chronic illness and redundancy in those stormy few years had led me to quiet waters. I found a new home, a new career and a new life. I finally had time to think and time to reflect and in that reflection, not surprisingly, there were feelings of anger, fear and unworthiness.
Looking back, through this “Abyss of my Hero’s Journey”, I can identify the “Supernatural Aid”, as Joseph Campbell refers in his book The Hero’s Journey, those unexpected characters in the Hero’s journey who have pulled me through my Darkest Night.
My greatest help came from the people I expected least – my ex-wife who, despite the angst and bitterness we went through in a separation, still had the one thing that crosses all boundaries, heals wounds between all factions, and with time solves all problems of the human condition – unconditional love. When those that I expected most had deserted me, the one I could understand would be least inclined to help me nursed me through a near catatonic state during many days and at night, her mother, Roz, cared for me and took me in until I could look after myself. What words can suffice to repay my gratitude for such divine acts? It’s a humbling experience and one that can easily make me feel unworthy of such kindnesses.
And as I recovered from my mental illness, another “Supernatural Aid” appears on the scene to mentor me with my physical condition. My mental state was exacerbated by a lung condition I had and this got me into a downward spiral mentally and physically. I was bound with fear. It became a burden I found almost unbearable, until I found Linda. I would travel to Stratford –on Avon to meet Linda, my Buteko mentor who taught me to fight COPD with breath control. She gave me the tools to fight my greatest fear of the time. All I had to do was continue with the exercises. I felt a lifeline had been thrown to me. I performed the tasks with great determination, though the outcome took time to appear. But nonetheless, I reached a stage where I could function with my condition. Linda also happened to be a tutor for transcendental meditation – some of which she imparted to me during our Buteko sessions. How incredibly useful this has been as I’ve developed!
In my Hero’s Journey, I have discovered that help can appear not only from those of whom you least expect, but from those who seem to be an agent of detriment to you. After 20 years of working for the same establishment and surviving 5 previous rounds of redundancies, I thought I was relatively safe from the 6th. There was a 90 day period whereby my (recently appointed new) director and I would have a series of negotiations. To cut the story short, I made my case for unfair treatment well. I had reached the point where his defence became “Well, I’ve made this decision because …… I have made a decision”…! But for years up until this moment, I had lived in the world without and not the world within. I had squandered my spiritual heritage and there seemed to be no way out. I had this strange feeling that the redundancy was for a reason – as if someone “up there“ was saying to me, “Ok son, I think you’ve had enough now. It’s time to take you out of this situation”. And so, I let go and accepted the redundancy. And I let go of the anger, because I saw the way that it had destroyed previous colleagues who held on to the bitterness years after their redundancy, and because I truly believed it when I said to myself, “it’s business – that’s all, it’s just business”. Many years ago, when I had just started work, I had a dream, where I was a lamb running around with the wolves and trying to howl like them, but all I could do was bleat. You should have seen the bemused looks on those wolves’ faces! But I should have listened to my subconscious mind – I was never designed to be a wolf – I was a lamb and I needed to act like one.
So today, I can look back at these dire experiences from my present position. It is as though I was plucked out of the abyss and transported to pleasant pastures to convalesce. I could find time, precious time to meditate, think and be still, which was a surprisingly exhilarating experience. I took to learning Tai Chi where I found stillness in motion, while at home, I found motion in stillness. Now, being in the Master Keys Experience has helped me to make sense of so much of what has happened to me and the tasks and exercises from the course have made me feel as though I have made the kind of personal development that would have taken me years to achieve on my own. Now, those emotions I felt in the abyss can be used as tools to further me on my Hero’s Quest. Those unlikely mentors, those inspiring heroes I met on the journey are all mentioned on my stack of gratitude cards, for each has helped me to be right here, right now, giving my account to you.