Okay, so that thing called your name. Insistently. Persistently. Wouldn’t let you go. And despite all your best efforts to avoid it, something bumped you over the bridge and you’ve accepted the call.
Yahoo! You’re on your path! This is your destiny, the course to bring out your potential, launch you smooth into that dream you were meant to realize. You’re following your bliss! Self-satisfied, you set out on your quest.
And what happens next? Everything turns to crap. Just crap. The bridge falls out beneath you. The road deadends. The guru who talked you into this disappears into the ethers. Your walking stick (sword, laser gun, computer) breaks in two.
What the ??? This is what I’m supposed to be doing, right? Wasn’t I led (pushed, pulled) this direction? Didn’t the gods, God, The Force, Neptune, some supernatural something put me on this path? Did I read it wrong?
Yep, that’s what always happens. Just about the time you’ve truly committed to the journey, all hell breaks loose. It’s like a preordained prescription. The script, page 20, calls for the bottom to fall out.
I can’t tell you why that happens, except that it just does. Myths always go this way, and of course, myths are just the making sense of our experience of life, which folks in all cultures started to notice and retell. They’re kinda like a blueprint for the human experience. Sort of Adriane’s ball of thread given to Theseus so he could find his way back out of the maze. Because we’re all, when truly following our destinies, on the hero’s path.
Most often these, ah hum, “irritants” are just that—of the annoying variety. You decide to write a novel and your computer dies. You go into the baking business and your oven fizzles out. You decide to start blogging and your Internet just spins and spins and . . .
You decide to hike the Pacific Rim Trail a la Wild, and your kid gets mono. You know—nothing life-threatening, but enough to postpone your trip indefinitely.
I always think of this time as when the trickster comes into the tale. Whether the clown in Celtic myths or often a crow in Native American ones, this being enters with nefarious motivation, which we can’t see at first due to its masks. We find out later that it really wasn’t a bird, but a witchdoctor of some sort come to pour salt into the batter and turn it to brine.
And what often pisses me off is that said trickster, when nailed, and questioned as to why, always answers with some form of: “Because I could!”
The trickster himself never has a reason. He just is.
But I’ve come to believe he actually does have one. Because it’s through this $%!&! being, and overcoming his trials, that we more deeply and firmly commit to the journey. This is a small test, and some folks do abdicate at this point. I often hear it from the standpoint of: “Obviously this wasn’t meant to be.” Or, “God is showing me not to do this.” Etc., etc. Or a million other different seemingly valid reasons.
But wait just a doggone minute. My question is always (to others and myself): “How do you know it wasn’t mean to be? Is this from the same God who told you to do it in the first place? You sure it’s not just that old trickster swooping in to see if you’re serious?”
Because that’s the trickster’s role—to see if you actually mean it.
The second reason for his being—and I’m being quite generous to that irritating bastard, as if he did this to help us (fat chance! LOL)—is to give us a taste for what’s ahead. You believe this road is filled with primroses? Then come a bit closer, my little pretty . . . It’s a warning to keep your wits about you, or you may stop to smell the poppies a la Dorothy and them, and fall asleep in the drug’s deceiving scent. Which in myths and fairy tales, just means to go unconscious, for whatever reason.
But we grow by overcoming, which is the essence of any quest. And this gives us a glimpse into the trials and tribulations ahead, albeit a fairly benign look. Because those we’ll face down the road will be fraught with far more peril . . .
And finally, it presents for the first time that question, which Nietzsche calls Amor Fati, the love of your fate: Do you have the courage to truly undertake this? Because as he says, if you say no to a single factor, you’ve just unraveled the whole thing . . .
So, attend to the annoyances. Out-wit the trickster (I dare you to try!). Give as little emotional valence as you possibly can to these early irritants, but learn from them.
And be grateful for experience. It will, as everything on this road, serve you well.