The Nobility of the Ordinary – Working in a Job, A Hero’s Journey

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By Matthew Harris

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt.

Many people experience the desire to ‘get out of the rat race’ and establish their own business that will give them financial, emotional and spiritual freedom, and the fulfilment of a grand sense of purpose. But what if the ‘dream’ doesn’t eventuate? How does a job help you achieve the dream that you want ‘Now!’?

A friend recently posted a status on Facebook reflecting this question. “My relationship to being an employee over the years has generally been one of recalcitrant dread overlaid by a strong sense of duty. A combination of big dreams, finely tuned emotional sensitivity and authority issues has always made working for other people extremely challenging – it was always a ‘stop-gap’ on the way to the freedom of self-employment.”

She spoke of the challenges she endured, of colleagues, customers and a habit of ‘escaping’ the pressure by flying the coop, “…yearning for the freedom to stretch my wings and breathe.”

But she stayed and she committed. “I committed to being taken into unknown waters and I discovered that, actually, I had bigger wings and that this job was holding me while I grew into them.”

These “unknown waters” took her into uncovering long-held issues with time management, authority, communicating with management, communicating with her much younger colleagues, and of course, her relationship with money: all essential elements to master, if you are to establish your own sustainable business.

For example, her issues with authority, “…called me into digging deeper to claim my inner authority on a totally new level…. I have stood my ground and shown my anger openly to management when I have felt unsupported and unfairly treated, and discovered how ballsy I really am.”

This is where the ‘rubber’ of all the personal development and spiritual growth courses, and all the books and meditation, ‘hit the road’. It is in the ordinary world that we are challenged and it is in the ordinary world that we must put the change into action. So, as my friend says, “…thankfully, with a bit of help, I had the tools to feel it, heal it and move into a more expanded and powerfully effective way of being – both personally and professionally.”

Hers is a powerful story and reflective of much of the elements of the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is a well-known narrative template, identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell, that appears in storytelling, movies, myth, religious ritual and psychological development, across time and across cultures. It is easily identified in movies like, Star Wars, The Matrix and even The Wizard of Oz.

The Hero’s Journey describes a person’s journey through their life, their struggles and achievements, as part of a great narrative that ultimately leads to the revealing of their true gifts and talents, and their use in service to the community.

My friend’s story showed the nobility of the ordinary. The ‘Hero’ in this case isn’t going to fight in some battle or cause, or create a ‘Visionary’ service or business that will heal and change the world, but rather engaging her heart and mind, and humbling herself in doing something she had resisted for so long. She got a job.

She got a job and found a way to live fully, even though it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She showed courage (courage derives from the Old French coragemeaning ‘heart, innermost feelings’) by engaging with her ordinary experience, staying open to the opportunities of her journey, and having a willingness to humble herself, find the power in her vulnerability and then with “…a deep sense of achievement that I walked (sometimes stumbled) through deserts and valleys and over mountains, step after step, to come to this place where, at the end of most work days, I am in an open field of blissful content. This feels like a true miracle.”

As she says about her experience, “These have been extraordinary gifts of wholeness and healing, amongst many others. I cherish what this job continues to show me. I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the humble day job, and all the ways it prepares the fertile ground for our soul offerings! Hail to the humble day job!”

Hail indeed. Hail the nobility of the ordinary.

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