In many fairy tales/mythical stories, the hero 👑 must make their way through various obstacles toward a destination.
Oftentimes, though, even once they reach the destination, they’re not finished, as they find the treasure is guarded by some kind of serpent/dragon/shadowy creature 🐉, functioning as the gatekeeper to the final prize.
Just when our hero thinks their task is nearly complete and they are exhausted from their journey, they have yet another foe to conquer or task to perform—and the hardest one to boot. The Wizard of Oz is a good example of this.
Sometimes, the hero does actually vanquish the foe. But other times, the hero chooses to woo it with a valuable gift. Or, in other words, the hero trades or sacrifices something of value for “entry to the castle” (i.e. wisdom). In doing so, the hero gains great wisdom.
As another example, see this story of Odin and the Well of Wisdom. Odin travels to the Well of Wisdom and gives up one of his own eyes in exchange for greater wisdom!
In this and stories like it, the item traded is often a physical object, but it represents something much deeper. In Odin’s case, he trades outer sight for inner sight (insight). (As a humorous side note – this could be the reason why, as we get older/elder, our eyesight 👓begins to fail us!)
In these stories, a “trade” occurs. In order to gain the great prize (wisdom, collective growth; a better, more equal society, etc), we need to give up something. We need to trade something of value in order to woo the dragon to let us into the gates of knowledge.
The longevity of these stories tells us that there was once great nobility in trading one’s personal needs/affects for a greater collective good.
I think we are at the castle gates in our collective story.
But I’m not asking anyone to willingly give up an eye!
Rather, I think we are being asked to release a set of beliefs or our way of life (habits, routines) in order that we can all open the gateway to greater wisdom and deeper, more lasting knowledge. For ourselves, yes, but more so for our children and our planet. 🌏
We have certainly already made difficult sacrifices and once-thought-impossible changes to our lifestyles in search of our destination (destination in our case meaning some kind of normalcy returning.)
We are tired. Hungry. Scared. Irritable.
And now, we face the gatekeeper.
How are we responding?
Well, some of us are trying to run away, and say that the journey wasn’t worth it.
Some are trying to fight the gatekeeper.
Others are fighting with their equally tired travel companions, rather than focusing on moving forward.
But, I personally think it’s time for us to “woo the dragon”, or make an offering, one that promises greater wisdom and wellbeing for our collective good in return.
What might this offering be?
Perhaps we could trade our fierce independence, individualism, and personal pride. In return, we stand to gain a greater sense of what it means to work for the collective good, to think collectively, to act on behalf of future generations.
This “ask” might cause you to gasp in mild shock. After all, “independence” is deeply embedded in all of us.
Ever since we were children, we’ve been taught to “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps.” We live or are encouraged to live in single family homes. We pledge allegiance to a flag that stands for independence.🇱🇷
The result is that we live in a country where individual effort is praised more highly than collective cooperation. Gaining individual recognition is a sought-after prize. And being able to say, “I’m a self-made man/woman” is often a resume builder. We don’t really know how to ask for help, nor are we very good at receiving it.
But the truth is, no one is actually “self-made.” No one.
None of us have gotten to where we are without the help and aid of others—many of whom are underpaid, undervalued, under-recognized, and often abused. We have all had a hand-up or a hand-out at multiple points along the path.
Therefore, what I’m suggesting we trade is not a TRUTH about our American way of life, but an ILLUSION about it. (Or, in courser terms, a lie we’ve been led to believe.)
What we stand to gain is worth FAR MORE than what we will give up: access to a GREATER TRUTH. ⭐️
Some parts of this truth will be ugly or difficult to swallow. Other parts will be beautiful and profound. But if we are willing to trade our limited and self-oriented perspectives, we can gain access to a much, much wider one.
In spiritual traditions, wisdom is never given freely.
We all have to “give up” something in order to grow wiser.
The question is this: are we going to cling to our ideas of “us” and “them,” “makers” and “takers”, “mine” and “yours?”
Or, are we ready to give up the illusions of what “makes America great” and finally see ourselves as one family, one heart, traveling together on a collective journey? And that we need each other to do so.
I hope you’re ready, because this world is asking us to change. It’s much healthier to befriend that monster at the gate, and change along with it. ⚡️