(6) The Road of Trials
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
In the next step of the Hero's Journey, "The Road of Trials", the Hero undergoes tests, tasks, and ordeals to begin the transformation, sometimes failing one or more of them.
The Hero uses the amulets and advice that the Supernatural Aid has provided them with and often discovers that there is a favorable power everywhere to support the Journey in unexpected ways.
As we progress with our inner journey we may happen to confront ourselves with our fears, demons, and dragons. New situations can trigger and expose our limiting beliefs.
Most likely than not, you realize that those limiting beliefs are just "thoughts" and not real things, and as such there's nothing to fight against. You just become aware of this, and you see the truth beyond your thoughts. Fears dissolve, dragons disappear.
Some unexpected external help might even ease our way through them, but the real Journey is happening within ourselves. Everything is inside-out.
When we hold ourselves back we may feel overwhelmed and struck, but when we relax into the flow of creation the trials seem to solve by themselves.
Have you ever experienced anything like this?
In this stage myth and stories show the Hero getting prepped up for the second part of the Journey, both mentally and physically. They get trained or find themselves into troubles from which they have to get out.
They are tested to see (and to discover by themselves) if they have what it takes to proceed with the Journey.
Sometimes they discover and put at service new talents. Sometimes they get conscious about their already existing abilities. Other times they receive unexpected help from people or benign beings that they have been kind to in the past.
They might fail one or more of the tests, but they are mostly successful and savor their wins. They make allies and learn how to address enemies.
Beyond the metaphor, we learn the rules of the new fluid and ambiguous environment we are finding ourselves in.
We start experiencing what it means "being" in the new world, and we start creating.
We learn how to use the new language to make us understood and make allies and companions at work, in our new city, in the new situation that we are facing.
We manage to get some wins, and when we happen to get something wrong, we learn from it and next time we play it better.
Let's see with some examples how this turns out in myth, movies, and real life.
In his "Metamorphoses", Apuleius tells that Cupid (Eros) and Psyche fall in love.
Psyche is so beautiful that she is rumored to be prettier than Venus. The Beauty Goddess gets offended, and does what she can to obstacle the union of the two lovers by putting the girl in front of impossible tasks. The girl will do all what's possible to her (and some more) to get back to Cupid.
First, the Goddess throws at her a mass of mixed cereals, beans, and seeds, ordering her to sort them into separate heaps before she returns.
A fleet of ants is moved to pity and helps Psyche.
Then, Venus tells her to gather the golden wool from violent wild sheep that pasture in an inaccessible valley.
The desperate girl is then instructed by a divinely inspired green reed to take the wool remained on some bushes near which the sheep had passed.
As a third task, the Goddess orders Psyche to get to her the black water from the source of the rivers Styx and Cocytus.
The girl reaches the cliff from where the water springs, but there she sees dreadful dragons near the rocks. While she is in despair, Jupiter himself sends his eagle to fill a vessel of water for her.
Finally, Venus sends her on an impossible journey to the underworld, ordering her to gather in a flask a dose of the beauty of Proserpina, queen of the underworld itself.
Psyche, hopeless, climbs a tower to throw herself off, but the tower animates and instructs her on where to enter the underworld and how to reach her mission.
On her way back though, Psyche opens with curiosity the flask, and a cloud of "infernal sleep" falls on her.
Cupid reaches her, takes the "sleep cloud" back in the flask, and awakes her.
Then they go and ask Jupiter, father of Cupid, to give his consent for their union.
Psyche is allowed by the King of the Gods to drink ambrosia, which grants her immortality, and the couple could be finally united in marriage, as equals.
In the dystopic, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, every year 12 boys and 12 girls are sent out on a deadly game where only one survives.
This is how the totalitarian regime punishes and keeps under control and under terror those populations that once rebelled against it.
Katniss Everdeen, from District 12, volunteers to be a "Tribute" for these Hunger Games, in order to save her younger sister who has instead been chosen by lottery.
Katniss has to learn fast that these mortal games are structured as entertainment. Everything is recorded by cameras and broadcast in real time to all Districts.
As such, not only physical prowess and courage are required, but also the ability to gain the favour of Sponsors who can provide Tributes with special help along their journey. It can make a difference between life and death.
Before the Hunger Games start, the Tributes are trained and have the possibility to showcase themselves so they can get a score.
Katniss is a skilled archer, yet when time comes for showing her ability in front of the Sponsors and Gamemakers, she misses the target. They laugh at her.
Her second arrow lands perfectly on the bull's eye, but in the meantime they had been distracted by sumptuous food on their table and don't give her attention anymore.
And that's a test for the young girl. Without even thinking, she aims at the apple in the mouth of the opulent roasted pork right there on the Sponsors' table, and this time she's perfectly on target. Scared as hell, all of the Sponsors' and Gamekeepers' eyes are now on her.
"Thank you for your consideration," she tells them while making a curtsy and leaving the room.
She's shown them her character, but this could cost her her life.
Yet, after the three days of evaluation, on a scale of 1 to 12 she's the only one Tribute who reaches a top score of 11. Her determination has been rewarded.
But the real trials start with the Games. She sees the other Tributes killing each other to survive and gain food and weapons. She stays away, ventures in the forest, and hides herself on trees, avoiding fights as much as possible and always remaining true to her human nature.
Since Katniss proceeds too much safely on her journey and too far away from the other tributes, the Gamekeepers decide to spice things up and provoke a fire in that part of forest where she is sleeping. Katniss runs away, but gets injured with a painful burn on her leg.
Then she is attacked by a band of Tributes. She saves her life by climbing a big tree, but the group camps there, with the aim to kill her as soon as she gets down.
During the night a drone brings to her a Sponsor's gift - an ointment to heal her burn. On the morning after she'll be already healed.
As she wakes up, she sees a large nest of poisonous wasps on the same tree she's on. She cuts the branch that supports it and it falls on the sleeping group. Most get killed by the wasps, but also Katniss gets stung and, right after reaching the ground, faints.
For two days and two nights she remains asleep, and another Tribute, the kind young girl Rue, takes care of her. The two of them become allies.
While Katniss is away to destroy the food reserve of the other group of Tributes, Rue gets trapped. Katniss comes and rescue her, but it's an ambush - a Tribute shoots an arrow to kill Katniss, but it is Rue who gets fatally wounded.
Katniss kills the other Tribute, and Rue, right after telling her "You have to win," dies in her arms.
She covers her with flowers. Right before getting away, she turns at one of the Games' cameras who are secretly watching on them and raises her hand with three fingers, as an act of respect towards Rue and the District 11 that the the fallen girl belonged to.
Moved by the scene, District 11 rebels against the absurdity of the Games and sets fires everywhere, but the insurrection gets extinguished with violence by the regime.
The Gamemakers get ready to punish with her life Katniss for her insolence, but her Mentor Haymitch suggests them not to kill her - they would create a martyr - but rather to distract the populations who are watching the Games with something new in their show: "Young Love".
A new rule is therefore introduced - not one, but two Tributes can win the Games, but only if they belong to the same District.
Peeta, the boy from the same District 12 that Katniss belongs to, is one of the few Tributes still alive. There's still hope for the two of them.
After rescuing Neo, Morpheus' crew gets him in shape. His Road of Trials starts here.
First, his muscles are atrophied, so they get to build them via bio-electrostimulators.
After the shock of realizing what being in the Matrix has meant, and how he has learnt to believe in a simulated reality as if it were his real life, Neo gets trained.
Ju-Jitsu and Kung Fu sparring programs are literally downloaded into his brain, and to the amazement of the crew, he absorbs every bit of data at the speed of light.
Then, Morpheus challenges Neo to prove his newly acquired Kung Fu skills by fighting with him in a simulated environment.
Some rules like gravity still apply, Morpheus explains, some can be bent, and some can be broken.
Neo performs quite well, but gets knocked down several times by Morpheus, who reveals him: "You're much faster than this. Don't think you are. Know it!"
With this understanding, Neo speeds up incredibly and defeats Morpheus, who goes on explaining: "I'm trying to free your mind, but I can only show you the door. You're the one who has to walk through it".
Then, Neo is catapulted into the "Jump Program". In this additional simulated environment, Morpheus challenges him to jump from the terrace of a skyscraper to another, far too distant for a jump in real life.
Morpheus shows him how to do it by performing the jump himself and recommending him to leave away fear, doubt, and disbelief.
Neo tries to take a good jump, but gets scared by the simulated height and falls down miserably.
Back to reality and out of the simulator, Neo tastes blood in his mouth because of the fall.
"Even if what is in the Matrix isn't 'real', the mind makes it real," Morpheus tells him.
And that's what happens in our thought-created world, when we believe that our thoughts about the world are more real than reality itself.
Those thoughts generate feelings, that in turn generate biochemical and physical reactions in the body, and yes, those may hurt.
But what if those thoughts weren't real at all? What if they were just a mental projection of what we want to experience, while reality encompasses a much deeper and wider spectrum of possibilities where wellness is the normal and natural state of being?
What if we were able to access, right here and now, a potential that the human mind cannot comprehend?
"Don't think you are," Morpheus says. "Know it."
My work in Switzerland as an "IT Project Management Consultant" lasted for exactly one year.
Then the project reached its successful completion and no more activities were required.
Except for some maintenance activity on the System developed, also the Consulting Company had a significant reduction of work, and I came back home.
Strong of the experience just completed, and with a new line on my CV, I started proposing myself for collaborations to IT and Software Development Companies in Milan.
So confident was I about the quality of what I had done and about my ability to adapt and shapeshift, so skeptical were the HRs and the Managers I had interviews with. They couldn't believe the transformation I had undertaken, and I didn't get any follow-up from them.
My Ego got crushed, once more. This was a hell of a test for me.
Then I started receiving requests from recruiters in diverse sectors - Banking, Finance, Consulting.
I was going through first level and second level interviews, but in the end there was always something on the client's internal side putting the job search on hold.
The good thing was that anyway I was starting opening up to the possibility to go beyond my past identity, in any sector where my project management experience could have been of use, and now with the flexibility of a freelancer.
In particular, one of the consulting companies required that I studied several books on Lean Product Development before I could be interviewed by them.
I accepted the challenge, especially because Lean Product Development was at the base of the Agile approaches that I had studied and applied thus far.
The contractual proposal that I received after the interview, though, was unacceptable, and I didn't follow up with them.
Yet, the study that I had just done on Lean principles and their applications would turn into gold several months later in unexpected ways.
I'll share more on this in the post on the "Apotheosis".
In the meantime, also because of my positive experience and a certain amount of success on Udemy, I started looking for opportunities to make a real business as an instructor of online courses, with the goal of reaching figures much higher than the "popular ones" that I had earned until then with that Platform.
I sensed that I had to learn from entrepreneurs expert in the field, and I started looking for inspiration, but without much success. The ones who claimed to be experts didn't convince me.
The entrepreneur who had shown up the year before, right after I had signed for Basel, came to the rescue. He started proposing me for several job positions with his clients that required competence in traditional Project and Program Management, Business Analysis, and Agility.
When also these final clients ended up by putting their search on hold, the entrepreneur asked me to be his Assistant on some of the trainings he would have conducted on subjects related to Business Analysis and to the Professional Scrum Master Certification.
In fact, he had sensed that I had the right skills to undertake the role of trainer on some of the courses that his clients asked him to perform, and he wanted both to show me his teaching style, so that I could align myself to it, and to give me an opportunity to show him my abilities.
So I assisted him on a couple of courses, and then we switched roles so he could see me in action. The class appreciated my style, the final client too, and so did he.
I had passed the test.
I had finally found an entrepreneur who would bet on the "weird mix" of my competences, and he had found a professional he could trust, with that exact weird mix he had for so long been looking for.
My outlook anyway was far from being good.
In fact, after the end of the activities in Switzerland I hadn't had a stable income, but only a few gigs in several months, and also the training activities with that entrepreneur had been occasional ones.
Something inside was telling me that, if I hadn't found my way out yet, there had to be something terribly wrong with me. Was I even worth?
I would soon discover the truth.
But... would I have been ready to embrace it, whatever it was?
And this is another story, for another post.
Do you remember a time when you felt challenged to prove your worth?
How did you approach it? Light-heartedly and with confidence, or dubious and scared?
Were you able to use advice or tools that you had previously received by a Mentor or by other sources?
Did you get expected or unexpected help along the journey to pass the test?
If you passed it, what did you gain?
If you didn't, what did you learn?
If you had limiting beliefs about yourself at that time, could you see now that they were just thoughts? If you had had a breakthrough allowing you to go beyond your limiting thoughts, how would your life be different today?
Are there still thoughts limiting your potential today? Can you see the space of pure creation just beyond those thoughts?
Is this post lighting you up? Are you willing to Open Up to Your Potentials?
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The Journey so far:
(6) The Road of Trials - This post
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