The Climb Down from the Mountain

I have never climbed an official mountain.  “Because it’s there” has no effect on me.  It’s  nice to look at, but I feel no compulsion to try to get to the summit.

If you look at climbing a mountain through the lens of the Hero’s Journey, the toughest part is the climb down from the top, AKA “The Road Back” stage.

I had heard that more climbers died on the way down from the Everest summit than on the climb up.  After some research, I see that Annapurna and other mountains are even worse: One of every three who made the top of Annapurna never made it all the way back down.

From the Hero’s Journey point of view, those climbers did not complete a Hero’s Journey.  Grabbing the “Reward” looks simple when you’re now facing the road back.  If you don’t look at your task with the Hero’s Journey stages as a reference point, you may be caught in the “Well… now what?”

You wrote the book.  It’s published.  Now what?

The doctor says, “The cancer’s gone.”  Now what?

Your painting was accepted by a prestigious art committee.  Now what?

You got into that super-selective college.  Now what?

My answer is to stop looking at your goals as linear.  Nothing in the universe is a straight line.  There’s no “The End” at the end because there is no end.

If you search the web, you’ll find a lot of circular and loop representations of the Hero’s Journey.   I visualize the Hero’s Journey as an infinite Slinky®.  The Slinky’s perfect because it’s a spiral that can expand and contract.  It can be wiggled back and forth.  It responds to me, but keeps its basic spiral shape.  If I am traversing the Slinky, sometimes it looks like I’m not getting anywhere, but when I glance over my shoulder, I see that I am.

The Road Back, to me, is the hardest part of the Journey.  The adrenaline and glamour of the Reward is gone and most days feel like a slog.  But!  If I remember the spiral shape of the Hero’s Journey, I know I get to feel the joy of sharing my message with the village and starting a new Journey soon.



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