Thursday, April 8, 2010

Odysseus is Home

I wrote the other day that I was percolating some thoughts about archetypes and journeys. 

Near the end of my time of living in Washington DC, I was restless, feeling that even though my life was pretty good, it wasn't what I was looking for.  I thought I was looking for worthwhile work outside, so had started the process of applying to the Peace Corps with visions of teaching people how to plant or herd goats or something.  I had no idea.  Of course, the Peace Corps isn't dumb - they wanted to utilize my skillset to help the world, and thought that it was perfectly fine to give me an assignment in Mexico working out of a cubicle helping businesses improve their operations.  Since that was exactly what I was trying to get away from, and another international job came up anyway, I never entered the Peace Corps, and the diffuse sense of wrongness continued to plague me.

Around that time I heard about the concept of archetypes.  The concept (which for those who know more about it than me, I will probably butcher) is that even though we think we are the first to walk our trail, we are not.  There are myths about those that have gone before, that can help us understand ourselves, our journeys and our challenges.

I bought a book by Carol Pearson about this, and the way she described it in 3 broad stages, preparation for a journey, the journey and the return touched a deep chord in me.  She describes our lives as a series of preparations, journeys and returns, starting as an innocent who believes that a perfect future is possible, developing into a seeker or destroyer who leaves the safe harbor and forges into the unknown.  Finally this person returns and creates new structures. Quoting from here is a description of the archetype I identified with then.


The Explorer/Seeker/Wanderer leaves the known to discover and explore the unknown. This inner rugged individual braves loneliness and isolation to seek out new paths. Often oppositional, this iconoclastic archetype helps us discover our uniqueness, our perspectives, and our callings.

I briefly skimmed this book again recently and identify with a different archetype now, still in the Journey phase:


The Creator archetype fosters all imaginative endeavors, from the highest art to the smallest innovation in lifestyle or work. Adverse to stasis, it can cause us to overload our lives with constant new projects; yet, properly channeled, it helps us express ourselves in beautiful ways.

Of course there are elements of other archetypes that fit as well - I feel some parts of the destroyer:


The Outlaw/Destroyer embodies repressed rage about structures that no longer serve life even when these structures still are supported by society or by our conscious choices. Although this archetype can be ruthless, it weeds the garden in ways that allow for new growth.

I discovered a blog about a month ago by a local meat producer: Pasture Raised and Grass Fed on Stony Brook Farm .  Reading it I saw that he is only a few years into this (I would say "too", but I'm not even a few years into this yet!) - I love other new people!  I don't care who he is, I love him anyway!  He wrote a blog entry at the beginning of the year that blew me away, called Odysseus is Home.  (quoting)
I realized — again because I have realized it many times over the past few years — that no matter the circumstances, there is no place I would rather be than farming. After circulating from one idea and grand plan to the next for the better part of twenty years, I have finally found a life that suits me. Sure, it is a difficult life. There is heartache and backache. There are long hours and even the biggest holidays are more or less just another day on the farm. But, it is the most satisfying, purposive, and rewarding thing I have ever done with my life.

I am at home on the farm, where really, objectively speaking after just a few years, I am still very much a stranger, and I am at home in my own skin as a farmer. I no longer feel like I am acting, playing a part, circulating through all of the endless possibilities that are available to people born into material lives as rich as my own.

and later he writes

Odysseus is home. I made it. So many times, I can’t tell you how many, I thought I was a goner, but I made it, I finally, really made it home, safe and sound.

I can't express the feeling any better than that.

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