The Reward and The Return on the Hero’s Journey

The Reward and The Return on the Hero’s Journey by Michelle Katz

From the incredibly courageous place of facing the ordeal, the survival of a death, and the overcoming of great fears, comes Reward. The Reward may come in many forms; object, symbol, characteristic, personal insight, or relationship. Overall, it is usually something that will help make the world a better place. Regardless of how it presents itself in the world, obtaining the reward offers a reason to celebrate, for the hardships that came and went, for the survival through them, and for the gift that is earned and will be cherished. The reward offers some understanding, purpose and perspective to the journey thus far. We come to see that our struggles have made the world a better place.

With reward in hand, we begin the Return home. There is a something inside us that knowns we need to return to the ordinary world. The road back is not easily taken, as we are so evidently changed.  Those we return to may not see us for who we are now, but rather may only be seeing us for who we were before we left. The greatest purpose of the return is in what the hero brings back, what was learned, the reward, and shares it with the people. This part of the journey, though it may sound nice and easy, is incredibly challenging.  Often as the hero tries to apply what was learned, the community may not be ready to see or even acknowledge the hero’s journey. This stage presents new and different obstacles to overcome and meet. Hopeful, with the reflection of our journey, we can handle new obstacles with new confidence and reveal our true selves to those who we belong to, our people, or we may come to realize who are people are now, as they may have changed. The Hero is truly transformed by the lessons and insights of the journey, and now the reward must be shared with the world.  The Hero’s awareness and gift, once shared, brings balance to the community. The hero’s life is new, forever influence by the journey traveled.

I currently sit in this stage of the Journey.  After the ordeal, surviving a ruined reputation, exposed vulnerability and shame, the loss of a man I loved, the loss of my career, the decline of my health, the loss of my community, and an overall loss of self-identity, I found something utterly new and incredible to me. I didn’t die.  I have astonishing resilience. I found a Self that is way more capable, mature, and confident than the Self I was before.  I found what I value most and what I know my role is in this world.

I had just fully experienced a rite-of-passage, and having lived it, I arrived in the place of becoming the mentor.  I had discovered that my life had guided me toward becoming something so much bigger and much more needed than being a therapist of the office, I became a Rite-of-Passage Facilitator of the world.  I knew it was my gift to be an ally for those going through what I had just experienced, to become a mid-wife for the process of severance, threshold and incorporation.  I know this is my work, my gift, and it is much needed in this world. Though this is a practice long forgotten, it is certainly needing to be remember and practiced again, more than ever. 

My The Return, was my returned to Santa Fe, in December 2016, after 7 years away on this journey of mine. Something inside me knew it was time.  I felt the landscape call me and I felt the call of community.  Though, I also certainly resisted, knowing it would not be what it was for me all those years ago.  I worried that I would feel lost, unable to make it work for me, that the relationships I’d return to would not be what I hoped for, that I would struggle to find work and I would be heartbroken by not being well received in what I brought back as my gift as a rite-of-passage guide, that I would be misunderstood and not find what I was hoping for in my return.  But as it came down to it, I truly had no other choice but to return.  It was the only thing I could do. It was not easy, I felt and continue to feel challenged. To this day, I continue to navigate this familiar world in a new way, because I am new. I humble myself often and fall deeply to the earth, for nature to hold me up again and again. Obstacles came and continue to come and I meet them with my values and lessons in hand, in a greater knowing of myself than ever before. 

Join Oaks Counsel THIS WEEKEND, March 25th, for the Hero’s Journey Day Quest for the exploration of your Journey.