The world is round and the place which may seem like the end
may also be only the beginning.
– Ivy Baker Priest
In 2004, I founded a Creative Writing Program at the Allegheny County (mega) Jail which houses 3,500 inmates. After their release, I’ve kept working with students.
Recently, one mentioned the challenges that people like him face in ending addiction and crime-based lifestyles. As we climbed a shady street lined with lush flowers, I couldn’t resist sharing a favorite Joseph Campbell saying – that the challenges we get are the ones we’re ready for, just like the heroes of our myths.
A key difference is that – while Jason and Hercules, Ulysses and Perseus didn’t seem much changed by their adventures – Campbell suggested that, in real life, tough stuff happens to force us from a cramped space to a larger place. Really?
The hero formula is pretty simple. We – the heroes of our own lives – must slay some dragon, free ourselves from some trap and otherwise close the door on an aspect of how we’ve lived so that some new, unexpected, even magnificent part of ourselves can be discovered. Woo!
And it seems that the process never stops … at least not until we leave the ride. Until then, round and around we go. Beginnings and endings, obstacles and openings, one opportunity after another to thrill ourselves.
See “Write For Life,” Trailer About Sandra’s Writing Program (6 minutes)