The last time we talked, I mentioned the left hand path. No, this one has nothing to do with flipped around can openers or spiral bound notebooks that open from the opposite side.
Not that being a lefty isn’t cool. There are quite a few in my family, including my daughter. And aside from an extra can opener and three awkward weeks of trying to teach her how to tie her shoes lo these many years ago, she gets along just fine.
Well, there’s that. But I digress.
Before I get too philosophical on you, here’s a 16th century disclaimer:
“So I have not declared all that appears and is necessary in this work, because there are things of which a man may not speak… Such matters must be transmitted in mystical terms, like poetry employing fables and parables.” Rosarium philosophorum, 16th century alchemical text
In other words, some truths are too truthy to fully comprehend. Our puny human brains can only process so much, which leaves our senses to figure out what’s left. (See what I did there?) Like Sandy demanded of Danny, we have to feel our way.
In his book, Creative Mythology, Joseph Campbell describes the left hand path much cleverer than I could hope to do. But one way he explains it resonates with me more than any other. He says the left side of our body is the emotional side, the one closest to the heart. It is represented as a shield protecting our vulnerability. The right side, then, is that of weaponry, all our tools we use to create our wall of success.
But here’s the thing. The wall we build is made up of what we’ve convinced ourselves we want.
Here’s my story:
A long, long time ago in this very galaxy (you thought I was going to say something else), I fell in love. We were at the young age of working closing shifts in the mall after morning classes, on the cusp of real adulthood. I was studying literature and dance while he studied finance and economics. We were the definition of cliched opposites.
Then the manager of the store we were working at said one of us would have to leave if we insisted on channeling Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr (fun fact-I was named after her), and because I had the “less serious” job, I left. And got a job at a bank.
“But wait,” you say. “You don’t math. You English.”
I swallowed that job the way Julia Roberts ate her eggs in Runaway Bride. I discarded my own persona and clothed myself in what I thought would make me successful in a life I thought I should want.
And I was good at my job, too. In ten years, I went from a new accounts rep to assistant vice president and an officer in the private bank (give or take a few years off to have babies).
I hated it. I cried. A lot. Mostly on the bathroom floor.
Even though I’d spent most of my time using the right hand path to build my wall of success, I could still hear the call hidden away underneath the shield.
If there was a training to give, I volunteered to give it. If there was a speech to deliver, I asked to deliver it. All of my colleagues asked why I wasn’t in the teaching profession. After all, I had the hand writing for it.
A few year later after a divorce, a stint as a manager of a Victoria’s Secret store (that needs its own blog!), and a new love, I finally summoned the courage to listen to the call.
The wall I’d spent all that time building on the right hand path turned into a door once I acknowledged my left hand path. Literally.
I’d been subbing at my kids’ elementary school, soaking up all I could learn about teaching from the amazing staff. When I went to enroll my daughter in her new middle school, I walked through the door to her office, and the principal offered me a job.
This is where it’s all sunshine and happiness, right?
Actually, I’ve never worked harder. Even cried sometimes. Okay, a lot. The difference is now I see where I’m going on my path. The wall gave way to a threshold, and now I can see where my purpose leads. And I’m not done yet.
Campbell also said that the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. If that’s true, my cave holds a deeper education in mythological studies and maybe, just maybe, a published book or two. Honestly, both of those things scare me to death. So I guess that’s good, right?
This is the cool part.
Whether or not you’ve discovered your own left hand path, you’re going the right way. All it takes is a little silence, the willingness to put down your sword and raise your shield, and a lot of listening.
Once you find your path, you’ll never want to go back.