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  • Writer's pictureDaniloTambone

(15) Crossing the Return Threshold - Coming Home, at Last


Picture by Brandon Randolph from Pexels


"You told me that the first and the last thresholds in a Hero's Journey have something in common. That made me very curious. And I'm still puzzled to tell you that, yes, I've crossed my Return Threshold, and the resemblance between the two of them is astonishing."


"All merits go to Campbell, Gisela, he was the one to notice the analogy. And now you've made me curious!"


"The 'Arbeitsamt', the Employment Office, was my First Threshold, remember? Well, with Covid-19 hitting the economy, many people have become unemployed, and the workload for that Office here in Germany has increased in a tremendous way.


"They needed help in advising and coaching people. Guess what? They reached out to me! So, I started to regularly coach people who are in the same situation I once was, and so now I can give back."


"Wow. That's a beautiful way to close the circle. Who better than you? You've gone through your fears, your challenges, your suffering, and you've come all the way out to tell other people that there's hope."


 

“Do you feel you’ve already crossed your Return Threshold, Jennifer? Has there been a moment when your perception has shifted once more, and you felt you stepped into your new ‘Ordinary World’?”


“Oh yes, quite recently. In September 2020 I’ve united my past three websites into one, JenniferEwing.com. It now integrates my Spirit Boat Making and Heart Making Workshops, my drawing classes, my art, my blog and background info. Only one more part of my work remains independent in nature from the others, and that’s the business that I run with my husband Leo for murals and decorative painting, at EwingGermano.com.


“Integrating my separate identities into one was to me like crossing a threshold because I finally found my message and unifying principle - ‘Helping People Transform Themselves Through Art’. It is about personal empowerment and using art as a tool and inspiration. And I also have a brand-new logo – a Viking style Spirit Boat, like the first one that came to me as a vision, exactly two years before I became a Spiritboatist.”


“Does it come easy sharing your message with people?”


“I work with abstract concepts, and they can be easily misunderstood. Sharing this with others is tricky, and I might feel inadequate to express the profound nature of what it is and ignite that perception in the public.


“This is why I’m currently working on a project to let people get in love with art by starting with the very basic elements – lines, arcs, circles – and discover the beauty in the outside, everywhere. Too many people dismiss art because they don’t think it’s interesting or don’t feel artists themselves, but they’re missing the point – art is a portal, and they don’t know they can use it. I want to show them how to get back to their core, like artists, the inner artist.”


 

The next stage on the Hero’s Journey is the one that Joseph Campbell defines The Crossing of the Return Threshold.


After spending most of their adventure in a deep place of exploration, now it’s time to make public the gifts and the awareness that they gained through the Journey. And it is often noticeable, both in myth and in real life experiences, the physical resemblance between the threshold that the Hero is now crossing and the one that they left behind when starting the quest.


There’s a big challenge, though.


People who remained on this side of the veil haven’t made the “little self” shattering experiences that the Hero went through. The Hero dissolved its ‘self’ and limited perception of individuality into a larger Wisdom and touched the Source of Everything.


They use words to define concepts. The Hero experienced a transcendental reality that words can’t capture.


They still consider as true only what responds to their physical senses and what they believe their intellect can explain. The Hero has expanded his senses into a larger Consciousness and learned to integrate wordless insights into his actions.


They see the world as made up of mutually exclusive opposites. The Hero reached a place where the concept itself of opposites makes no sense, since everything is one.


They fight against change and try to keep the status quo as firmly as possible. The Hero sees the change as intrinsic of life, and life and death, day and night, light and dark, as natural appearances of one single reality.


How expressing to them what the Hero went through?

And will they matter?

And does it even matter to share?

And how to deal with those who don’t recognize the Hero after crossing the threshold? Dismiss them, as Odysseus does by eliminating the Suitors who profited from his household in his absence, or try and convince them, as Dorothy does with her relatives once she awakes after her journey in the Land of Oz?


The Heroes could come back to their lives keeping their own secret, after all.


But if they’ve really been touched inside and they’ve acknowledged the beauty of it, they’ll finally find a way to share the boon with their people.


And they’ll do it either on purpose, by actively sharing the word, or just 'being in the world' with their newly acquired awareness.


People will notice. And some will be inspired to take their own journey, while other ones will stay put, wishfully and stubbornly waiting for a savior to come and save them from their own stillness and fears.




Crossing the Return Threshold in The Odyssey


This is a long and probably the most complex stage in the Odyssey. It happens in parallel, and separately, for both Telemachus and Odysseus.

In both cases the two Heroes must use stratagems to come back home without being killed.



Odysseus wakes up on the shores of Ithaca.


He doesn’t recognize the place at first. In fact, Athena had let mist rise up to protect him from the view of his very people.


The goddess appears to him, reassures him that he’s back to his island, and shares her plan. She will make him look like an elderly beggar, so he can approach home without arousing suspicion, discover who had been loyally waiting for his return and who instead had been taking profit from his departure, and set up his deadly revenge.

Athena and Zeus will be both on his side.


He accepts. As advised, he seeks refuge by the hut of his swineherd Eumaeus who, without recognizing his beloved king, treats Odysseus with hospitality and speaks well of him.


As for Telemachus, immediately after he set sail to Pilos looking for news regarding his father, the Suitors conspired to ambush and kill him. They were still waiting for him on the sea, on a strait where they expected him to pass on his return.


But Athena, after inspiring Telemachus to leave Sparta and come back home, instructs him on setting sail during the night, staying away from that strait, and be guided home by the wind that she and Zeus will send.

She also tells him that, once landed on Ithaca, he should send his men to the city while he will head off to the hut of Eumaeus.

And so he does.


There, Telemachus meets Odysseus in disguise and, when Eumaeus leaves them alone, the father lets his son recognize him. After wiping away their tears, they architect how to kill the Suitors.


Telemachus comes back home first, while at a distance Eumaeus, still unaware of his guest's identity, accompanies Odysseus to the palace. After Itaca's shore, this is the second threshold that the hero crosses.

There, the arrogant Suitors make fun of the man disguised as a beggar, but he endures meditating his revenge.


He also talks with Penelope, who doesn’t recognize him, and discovers that she’s still loyally and patiently waiting for his return. He tells her he has met Odysseus and has news that he’s coming home soon, but she doesn’t believe that.


Odysseus is instead recognized by his elderly nurturer Eurycleia when she sees an old scar on his feet, but Odysseus forbids her to reveal his identity to anyone.


The day after, Athena inspires Penelope to set up an archery game for the Suitors. The one who will be able to string Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through the heads of twelve axes lined up will marry her.


All of them try, one after the other, without success.

Only Odysseus manages to do it.

Immediately after, with the help of Telemachus, Athena, and of a couple of servants he had revealed himself to, he kills with no hesitancy all the disrespectful Suitors.

And then, it's the turn of all the maids who betrayed Penelope's trust.


Another Return Threshold needs now to be crossed by Odysseus: Penelope’s heart.


In fact, she doesn’t believe yet that this beggar is her husband.


Penelope puts him to the test with a comment about their bridal bed, and he replies with a secret detail that only he could know, since he built it himself from an olive tree still rooted to the ground.

She finally recognizes him.

They embrace each other and drown in tears.


There's now one final step for Odysseus to take to completely cross his return threshold: embrace his father Laertes.


The morning after, hidden in the dark by Athena, he reaches his father's farm accompanied by Telemachus and the two servants.


Laertes is in the vineyard, hoeing the ground. Odysseus approaches him, but his father doesn't recognize him. Too much time has passed.

First he pretends to be a foreigner who met Odysseus five years before. When the father breaks down in tears, he finally reveals himself by sharing details that only the two of them know.

They hug each other.


The last threshold is now crossed.




Crossing the Return Threshold in The Wizard of Oz


Dorothy taps her heels together three times while saying: "There's no place like home."


Everything starts warping and her house spins again in the sky.


She awakens on her bed as Aunt Em is refreshing her forehead with a wet towel.


Around her, in a black and white world, she sees her relatives and the three farmhands.

Professor Marvel joins then, and Uncle Henry explains that she fainted after bumping into the window and that for a moment they were afraid she would leave them.


Yet, she insists that she had actually left and had been catapulted in a place with those same four men who were standing right there, and that she had done everything to come back.

Aunt Em comforts her and briefly dismisses it as a bad dream.


Dorothy first starts doubting herself, but then she’s convinced. It was a real place, with good and bad things, and she wanted to come back, that’s why they sent her home.


Nobody believes her, and she notices.


But, as Toto jumps on the bed and she hugs him, she says she doesn’t care, since anyway now she’s home, she loves them all, and "There's no place like home."




Crossing the Return Threshold in Chris Gardner’s Hero’s Journey


After a thirty-five-year career, Chris retires from the financial services business.


This Return Threshold matches with the First Threshold that he had crossed when entering the world of stockbrokers. In fact, the chaos of those people shouting orders, the electricity in the air, the jazz-like swing that was rolling out in front of him as notes on a music score, all of that made him feel at home back in 1982.

But now, it is time for him to really come back home, away from a world of things and into a world made of ‘Friends, Families, and Folks’, as he uses to say.


The switch from CEO of his financial services company into ‘CEO of Happyness’ lets him also fulfil one of his juvenile dreams, the one that he had back in the early 1970s when crossing the threshold of the Navy: traveling the world.


Today not as a sailor though, but as an internationally sought-after motivational speaker.




Crossing the Return Threshold in My Story


On June, 30th, 2020, I bring to completion my commitments with my three teams in Modena.


Tears fall down. Neither the physical distance nor the web interface of our last internet calls soften enough our good-byes.

And I stay with that feeling.


On that same day, I write a blog post on Navigating Covid, Transitions, and the New Normal". It’s the public kick-off of my full-time coaching business.


As a follow-up of the Coaching Mastermind that I did back in April, the same training company launches a “30 Days Money Game”.

It’s a playful way to support new coaches in the clients’ creation process – Connect, Invite, Chat&Create, Propose.


Its kick-off day is on July, 1st, and I take it as a sign after the halt to my consulting assignment.


The goal of the game is, for each participant, to connect in 30 days to as many people as possible in our networks, invite them to a chat to see how we could serve them, explore together if a coaching journey could be useful to them, and, if it makes sense, propose them a coaching package.

Going through these steps, participants will post on a shared excel table their results by the end of each week. After 30 days, we’ll see who has scored the most in coaching packages proposed.


It’s so much fun since we support and encourage each other in the coaching community, yet we push ourselves to top the list with the highest figures.


The game propels me beyond any expectation. In the first two weeks only, I have more coaching conversations with new prospects than I had in the previous two years.


As I listen each of them, I’m fascinated both by the multifaceted nature of humanity as well as of how easy things flow when I am simply present, not pushing to demonstrate them how good coaching could be for them, nor how good a choice I could be. I’m simply interested and open-hearted, and it’s an enriching experience on both sides.


Then, the instant I’m feeling that momentum is growing on my business coaching, and without any job search from my side, on July, 23rd, a recruiter based in London contacts me via LinkedIn.


He’s conducting a very urgent search for a Consultancy Company with a final client based in Milan, a key multinational player in the insurance sector.


The search is for the exact same role and type of contract that I had in Modena. Almost the same money, but with a big difference: the client’s premises are just 15 minutes’ car drive from my home, and anyway the work will be from remote until the limitations for the pandemic are in place.


The day after I have a second level interview with the Consultancy Company.

I discover that there’s a sour note in relation to the coaching business that I was just building: the final client requires a full office time, 9-6, five days per week.

No time available for additional gigs during the week before 6pm.


If I choose that contract job, the “full-time coaching project” that I was undertaking would hit a halt.

What should I do?


I take the weekend to think about it.


As I mumble on it, my wife tells me, “You coach people on recognizing how the happening of certain events, especially the ones that you’ve not looked for, are signs that point us to the right direction. You call this ‘effortless creation’, don’t you? Why should it be different this time?”


Oh, well.


In a blink of an eye, not years as I did in my previous life, a load falls off my shoulders.


Let’s give it a try.


It’s work from home, and there’s nothing at risk.


I could still have coaching sessions after office hours during the week and in the weekends if I want.


And, by the way, being a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach is still a coaching engagement, and I would not be surprised if at a certain point in time I could be coaching one-on-one their leaders too.


And, in the worst case, I can come back to full-time coaching as I was just starting to do.


No fear.


So, I inform the recruiter.


A couple of days later I have an interview with the Coach and Scrum Master who is currently working with the client and that I will substitute.


The day after I have an interview with the final client.

There’s a Manager and an Agile Coach.

Both are from Germany, where the Company’s Headquarters are located.

They explain the challenges that they’re facing and ask me what I would do in the role.


Those challenges are basically the same that I’ve helped my previous teams overcome through the years, so I answer from personal experience.

I see them nod and take note.


And then, as we close the interview, I surprise them with those few German sentences that I still remember.

It’s the same card that I had played, five years before, when interviewing with the client in Basel while crossing my First Threshold.

We laugh a lot and end on a high note.


That same day, the client confirms the Consultancy Company that they want me in.


The morning after I digitally sign the contract, from the comfort of my home.


And I also have 3 weeks’ time for enjoying my holidays in August before the actual start of my assignment.


Seven days in total from first contact to contract sign-off.


Never experienced anything like this in 17 years of work.


I’m in awe. I remain a lucid and humble witness of the blissful and effortless creation that continues to unfold in front of me.


This is my Crossing of the Return Threshold.


I’m coming back to the Ordinary World, and I’m willing to share what I’ve discovered so far.


The point now is: how?



 


Your Story

  • Remember a moment in your life when you had a meaningful experience in a context different from your daily environment or anyway out of your comfort zone.

  • How was it coming back to your daily life? What did you feel?

  • Were you able to integrate that experience in your common life?

  • Were you able to express in words, to people around you, how you had felt and what you had learnt? Were you afraid to look weird in front of them?

  • Did they tell you they perceived you somehow differently from before?



Beyond Your Story

  • Look beyond the specific events that you may have recalled in the points above. How did that experience transform you, what was special of it?

  • Did you feel the need to share your newly acquired awareness with people who hadn't been through it?

  • If yes, were you able to express it in words? Did those words land on your fellow people's hearts? Were they touched as you were?

  • If not, what kept you from sharing? Fear of not being understood, will to keep it for yourself, desire to fully embody that awareness with no need to show off, or something else?


 

Is this post lighting you up? Are you willing to Open Up to Your Potential?


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Love,

Danilo


 

The Journey so far:


Copyright © Danilo Tambone. All rights reserved.

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