I believe you can terminate your Journey at any point once you start. You can choose to abandon your goal and traipse on back to the real world with a neat little side-step during any phase. Tests and Trials just got too much? Give up and go have a laydown on the couch. Ordeal cracked your selfhood? Stop and take up long walks. Got through it, but just don’t want to talk about it? No problem. Self-survival is a human instinct. It is truly ok… if YOU choose to end the Journey.
But what about people who didn’t get to decide, who get their Journey ended for them?
I started thinking about this when I read, Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik. It is a fictionalized rendering of Iranian poet and filmmaker, Forugh Farrokhzad, who died in 1967 in a car crash (accident or assassination?). Her poetry is lauded as proto-feminist today. At the time of her death, her film, The House is Black, about life in a leper colony, had captured the international film community’s attention, and her friends were labeled enemies of those in the government. Accident or assassination?
For her Journey, it doesn’t matter. She was never able to finish her Journey, as it ended in The Ordeal (my opinion). Her choices were taken from her at that point.
Many people pay the highest cost for a Hero’s Journey that threatens those in power. Some are able to complete their Journey virtually with what they created along the way inspiring us long after their death.
Malcom X wrote The Autobiography of Malcom X that you can read for free.
Martin Luther King is documented in film and television footage and wrote his letters from jail. KingInstitute.Stanford.edu
Isadora Duncan, Selena, et al… All of these magi provided us the story of their lives and significant art for us to treasure and learn from. In that way, they completed the last half of the Hero’s Journey: they made the Journey back and shared the magic with the village.