CHAPTER 5: Let The Games Begin!
In this chapter, Meylyne learns that she must steal from a tribe of merciless Hyldas—guardians of the Warrior-Realm—if she and Hope are to survive. In the archetype of the hero’s journey, this is seen as initiation—a test (one of many) that the hero has to pass if she is to succeed on her quest. Initiation is much beloved in the world of the myths and adventures. There heaps of stories with miraculous tests and ordeals in which heroes are secretly helped by advice and tools from supernatural helpers they met before. To paraphrase the author of THE HERO’S JOURNEY, Joseph Campbell—
“The adventure is everywhere and the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.”
But Meylyne sees herself as anything but a hero. As far as she’s concerned, she is entirely without “competence and courage,” so for her the danger does not fade! Most of us see ourselves that way too. While some initiations are pretty straightforward—religious initiations into adulthood like baptism or Bar/Bat Mitzvah for example—other initiations can be a lot more complicated. Sometimes they feel fraught with danger. Sometimes they are fraught with danger—a violent gang initiation for example. The idea behind this is to hurt the initiate during initiation so that afterward, in order to justify the beating (or what-have-you) they endured, they feel all the more connected to the gang. That might sound crazy to you, but think about a time you’ve stuck by someone simply because you’ve already gone through so much with them. A lot of us do that!
For most of us our initiations and tests are not so much physically threatening as they are psychologically threatening. This is especially true of school. I’m not talking about the tests you take in class—I’m talking about the tests you endure to enter into or prove your loyalty to your social group. With these tests the stakes are high. According to Rosalind Wiseman, author of QUEEN BEES AND WANNABES, for many children school is like a turbulent ocean and their group of friends is their lifeboat to safety. Going against the wishes of the Queen Bee is perilous. Who wants to be tossed out to the sharks? My daughter once told me about a situation in which one of her friends (I’ll call her Jenny) felt pressured to snub another girl. The ringleader of her group was jealous of their burgeoning friendship and wanted reassurance of Jenny’s loyalty to her. Jenny stayed quiet. She did not stand up for the other girl, but she didn’t snub her either.
What would you have done?
Frankly, these sorts of tests are really hard. They don’t just exist within social groups—they exist across social groups too and those tests are just as perilous. When I was twelve, I remember two scary, intimidating girls in my class bullying a boy. My best friend in school told the teacher. I was so impressed. No one else had dared to do it. I certainly didn’t—I was too busy trying to stay under the radar so that I wouldn’t get bullied. I had an opportunity to be a hero but I opted out.
Since then there have been other tests—some I passed and some I failed. Others have yet to come. These tests are often opportunities to try on new behaviors and cross over into new realms of being. Sometimes the test is about resistance to a new way of being. When I was fourteen, a boy wanted to kiss me. I said no. I wasn’t ready to be initiated into the world of boys kissing girls yet!
How about you? What are some tests you’ve gone through in your life so far? Are there any coming up? In a perfect world, how would you handle them? I’d love to hear!