Your Hero’s Journey: Belly of the Whale
I was standing on the top of a 30-foot wooden pole. And the only thing I could think to say to myself was, “Breathe.”
It felt like the whole forest was quiet. I couldn’t hear anything, despite the fact that there we seven people yelling at me from the muddy earth below.
I was slowly, so slowly, turning. My knees were slightly bent. I was inching one foot in a pivoting motion, following carefully by the other. My size five feet were hanging ever so slightly over the edge of the pole. I couldn’t even think about how small the diameter was. All I could think was, “Breathe.”
A few moments before, I was grabbing on to the outer circumference of that pole, with both feet on a large staple-like step.
When I had started the climb for this exercise, I just took it one step at a time. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought. Just step and breathe. Step and breathe. The staples were big enough I could easily grab on like handlebars, and I felt like my feet had a pretty sure grip in my hiking boots.
But when I got to the top, there were no more steps. Well, scratch that. There was one more step.
On top of the pole.
As I hugged the pole, I could feel it gently swaying, like the surrounding trees. My mind had gone blank. “How on earth do I get up here?” I asked myself. More like my feet asked me. “Danielle, how do you expect us to get up there?”
Then I had a brilliant idea. I don’t need to take this step. I’ve already reached the top.
I’ll just go back down the way I came.
But as soon as I looked down I knew that was a bad idea.
Not just because of looking down, although that certainly contributed to it.
But because, I knew, I really had not reached MY top.
I knew I could take that step.
I just had to trust… myself.
And maybe God.
Because there were no more hand holds. There was nothing but thin air to grab onto. I simply had to take the big step… the one that felt like a mountainous, impossible leap.
I have no idea how I did it. I just knew that I had. Because there I was, standing on top of the pole, slowly, so slowly, turning towards my destiny.
Every Hero experiences being in the “Belly of the Whale.” This is the stage that represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and old self. By entering this stage, the hero shows her willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.
This is the stage like the caterpillar going into the cocoon. The whole thing turns to goo. This is when it feels like your entire life as you know it is falling apart, maybe YOU’RE even falling apart. This is where you decide to let go completely and undergo your complete transformation.
What needs to go in your life? Let it go. What needs to be reborn? Rebirth it.
Know that you are not alone here in the belly of the whale… you’ve got LOADS of friends. Also know that this stage doesn’t last forever. It’s temporary. But oh so necessary.
This is when you not only realize, but truly decide, there is no turning back.
You cannot reenter the life you left. The box is too small. You are too precious.