Transforming the Journey:
Mentoring Lives Through Magic and Myth
To understand mentoring, one must first understand the journey, for it is in the midst of journeying that the mentor appears. Daloz suggests that mentoring is best conceived of as a learning journey in which the mentor and mentee are companions along the way. He says, "Although journeys differ for each of us . . . they do have direction, they have a common syntax, and we can mark our progress by the passing signposts. In their form itself lies their meaning."4 He continues:
The journey tale [as you know well] begins with an old world, generally simple and uncomplicated, more often than not home. . . . The middle portion, beginning with departure from home, is characterized by confusion, adventure, great highs and lows, struggle, [and] uncertainty. The ways of the old world no longer hold, and the hero's task is to find a way through this strange middle land, generally in search of something lying at its heart. . . . At the deepest point, the nadir of the descent, a transformation occurs, and the traveler moves out of the darkness toward a new world that often bears an ironic resemblance to the old. It is not the same, of course; it only looks that way.5
Finally, Daloz reflects:
For each of us, tangled inside of our own stories, the endings are hidden. Yet most of us spend the better part of our lives trying to assure ourselves that our tales are already told, even if not yet lived, and that they have a happy ending. The discovery that this might not be so can, in itself, lead to profound transformation. But the appearance of someone who has already taken the journey can bring a sigh of relief to the best of us. This is where mentors come in6.
Whether wanderer or pilgrim, the traveler encounters the mentor who in passage makes more probable what appears at first to be impossible.