Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Hero’s Journey - The Real Year In Review

Our mythic life

Common World
Call to Adventure

It has been just over a year since we moved to London. We left our safe, comfortable world. We left our play group and the exquisite quality of people who formed it. We sold our house. We embraced the call to adventure.

Refusal of Call
Once we got here. We regretted our decision immediately. I often found myself looking around, weeping and saying we left everything behind for this? We didn’t meet many people. I called my husband everyday at 3:00 to let him know that I was leaving him.

Supernatural Aid
Crossing First Threshold

But, finally we met Amazon. One friend was enough to sustain Winston. Then he fell dreadfully ill. (See past blogs.) I put out the call to our crazily diverse communities. Pray for us! Pray for us! I begged.

An immense projectile of positive energy was thrust out into the universe on our behalf. Our Born Again Christian friends prayed, our Catholic friends prayed, our Protestant friends prayed, our Unitarian Universalist friends prayed, our Wiccan friends prayed, our Muslim friends prayed, our Santeria friends prayed, our Kemetic friends prayed, everybody challenged that cosmic decision on their own terms and in their own ways....

And Winston recovered. And we thought - okay we have one friend and a living son. Surely we’ll be okay. As the proceeds of the house sale were winnowed away by the high cost of living in London, we looked google-eyed at the sky and said, Now what?

It was then that I was offered the jobs at UEL and CityLit. I wasn’t seeking work. Somehow, a message was sent out and we were provided for. God/dess love us this I know. Our world reopened. I had some truly excellent students. I met some truly extraordinary people.

Road of Trials
Then, I broke my toe. Still, I hobbled off to class. In the dead of winter, in a place when the sun sets at 3:30. And the cold - while nothing like where we are from - chills more in the walking, being refused by bus-drivers, loneliness and despair that falls upon London in this season. Especially - with a broken toe.

Winston did not take to my working well. The first minder didn’t help at all. She was so lost in the idea of getting paid to put her own children’s needs first...but in ways that Ofsted would look askance at. So, he wept and wept and wept. And I paid for it by holding him every night while he slept fitfully in my arms.

Supreme Ordeal
Then the miscarriage. And limping along to class after oozing blood and bleeding class in the dark..

The Ultimate Boon
But, CityLit gave me three classes filled with superb people. There is nothing more profound than serving as the literary midwife at the birth of a new voice. I was privileged to serve at many births. Voices which have something truly wonderful to share with the world. Just you wait people - I’ll be claiming this new wave of British super stars in just a few years!

And also came Alice. Alice - super nanny - she who arrives with her black nanny bag filled with activities - just like Mary Poppins - only better...because she is real. Sensible, no nonsense, filled with love and compassion Alice.

Refusal of the Return

Yesterday, the tadpoles hatched at our pond. We observed them flicking and wriggling in the murky mud. Only a week or so has passed since we carefully pushed the algae back into the pond. One scoop of muck contained so much life: water spiders, snails, minnows, newts, and frog spawn. I believe we will miss the transformation of tadpole to frog. But, there is always next year. And the summer promises us so much.

One some level, Winston understands that there is so much beneath the surface of life. Still, it amazes me. London’s parks demonstrate a rich example of the importance of bio-diversity. I can’t imagine that they spray pesticides or weed killers everywhere. When I think back to walks in The States, I don’t remember such a wide range of life forms. I enjoy the privilege of observing such a complete, complex ecosystem - in the middle of the city.

It feels as if there is so much to do before we go. I worry about Little Dude and our other squirrel friends. Construction proceeds at a rapid pace. They are still skittish and shy. I hope they remember us upon our return. Three weeks is a long time in the life of a squirrel and a toddler. Ages and aeons pass in three weeks - for both of them.

His nanny took him to see his duck friends today. So, we don’t have to worry about our good-byes to them.

Spring is a glorious time in London. It is as if everyone and everything in the city is stretching its arms, blinking, sighing, and shouting hooray. Everything feels wide open and imaginable.

The holly bushes are blooming. Winston is fascinated that something so prickly can bear such lovely soft blossoms. He strokes and strokes them. Then he feels their waxy deep green leaves. Gently he presses his finger against the stickers at the tips. One bush with so many sensations and textures. It says something about the world to him. And he remembers the red berries. How he loved those berries in the Autumn.

We’ve been walking around a lot - like we always do. But - now he is noticing the remnants of the berries and watching the buds for next season’s berries unfold. He remembers that we didn’t pick the berries because the birds needed them to get through the winter. The birds are abundant and active. We can’t help notice them. They are loud and busy and active. I think, he feels a certain amount of satisfaction that he helped them get through that hard, dark time.

And oh glory! The bugs have woken up! He has found numerous ladybirds, spiders and ants. He really missed them throughout the winter. On some level, i think he was worried that they had disappeared forever. But, I promised him that with the flowers would come the bugs again. I am delighted to have made something better than a pie crust promise.

The best part of all of this - is that I think he is beginning to understand the circle of the year. But - he understands it in such an organic manner. He understands it through light, temperature, weather, plants, animals and insects. I look forward to being able to translate these natural rhythms into our manmade notions of an hour, a day, a week, a season, a year. But - I’m happier that he understands them in this way first. What a lovely gift London has given me!

Crossing the Return Threshold
Master of the Two Worlds

As sad as I am for the reason to return to my home in Pittsburgh. I am happy that we are undertaking the journey now. We travel into the warmth of wide arms, good souls and hearts larger than giant hibiscus. I have missed that way of life.

Only now - with London peeling itself open like a pomegranate offering her million seeds - am I beginning to understand how much this interpretation of The Hero’s Journey has reflected our life this past year.

I will eager to return - I almost called it home - to London in three weeks. So many more adventures await us here. And when we leave Pittsburgh, we will let go of so many other kinds of wonder.

And I realise - we might just master two worlds.

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