Life is one big journey full of many smaller journeys. Some journeys overlap. Some are quick; some are slow. Some journeys even seem to go backwards. We go on literal journeys, emotional journeys, learning journeys... we are always moving from one point to another, encountering things along the way that shape and influence the experience. Our journeys influence who we are and where we journey next.
Stories are journeys and there is one story we've all been telling, or so the esteemed author and scholar, Joseph Campbell tells us. He called it the Hero's Journey. It's a pattern that he discovered while studying the myths and stories throughout millennia, across all cultures. What is interesting about this pattern showing up always and everywhere is that it points to what it means to go on the human journey and what gives life meaning.
The Hero's Journey will sound familiar because it is found in songs, stories, movies and the like everywhere. People such as Bob Dylan and George Lucas have said that it has influenced their work. And we all experience our own version of it too, whether it is in our awareness or not.
With Star Wars/The Force in full force right now and the start of a new year, it seems like a good time to go on a journey. Join me if you will...
It begins with the "call to adventure." The human spirit is born to explore and to grow, to create and to have community. Change is happening to us all the time, but when we choose to participate and be intentional about it, it becomes an adventure... an adventure we are all being called to.
Here are some signs that you are getting the call to adventure, the call to make a bold, positive change in your life:
- You feel uncomfortable in your life, in a funk, bored or "happy enough."
- You find yourself saying "someday..." every day.
- Maybe with the help of social media you see others living an ideal life and feel jealous or want that for yourself. #livinthedream
- Or maybe you feel a nagging feeling of something you just have to do.
- You get this feeling that there is "something more."
- You want to do something meaningful, you experience a yearning for purpose. You begin to look at the bigger picture of life and not just the immediate day-to-day.
- Or maybe you hear the call to adventure because you read a blog on The Huffington Post about it. wink wink
If any of this sounds familiar, you are getting the call to adventure. At least one of you will be squirming thinking, "omg, that's me." I'm sorry and you're welcome. And I'm going to tell you what you can do about it.
When I started getting the call to adventure, to leave everything I knew to go explore abroad, naturally I did what I had to do... I defended the heck out of my fears and dismissed it all as irresponsible.
Leave! Go explore something new!
... but where?
Anywhere, that's the point!
... but I have a mortgage!
Go travel, you don't need a home
... but what will I come back to?
That's also the point! You're leaving to figure it out.
This is how it went for me, my ego and fears were trying to keep me safe and small and it was time to choose a different way of being. It doesn't require all of us to pack up and leave. What it does ask you to do is to consider the unfamiliar, to explore the unknown, to take risks and make decisions in the name of exploring your full potential and you can do that anywhere.
Once you hear the call to adventure, you cannot unhear it. It will just get louder. It may die down for a bit and then come back with a vengeance. Why? Because as humans we are meant to grow, create and expand just like the universe we were born into.
In this story, the hero responds to the call to adventure and crosses a threshold, into new territory, immersing in unknowns.
Obstacles and challenges show up along the way and they are met by lessons, teachers and allies. (Most of our lives are spent in this fashion as we are continually presented with the opportunity to notice, to learn and respond. How we do so will shape our lives.)
On each journey, the hero eventually faces a final battle, test or tipping point where he musters up all of his courage using everything that it took to get him to this point. This part is hard and may indeed feel like a death. It is where we meet our biggest fears and challenges that we've been carrying for a long time and choose to let them go so that we can create space for something new that better serves us. The bigger we are dreaming, the harder this part will be...but also that much more worth it.
In facing the final test with courage, the hero prevails, experiences her full potential and purpose and returns to her community to share the gifts from her journey.
We all get a call to adventure. This is it.
So where are you going? Right now. What are you working towards? Do you want to go there? Do you ever think about this?
- Look at your life now and look at where you're headed.
- List the qualities of the life that you want, include your values, passions, talents and what you liked to do as a kid.
- Start to create a vision. If you don't have one, it is ok for your vision to be to find one.
- Be honest about your fears, excuses and worst-case scenarios.
- Do something new, start creating. Anything.
- Surround yourself in unknowns.
- Talk about it, let people help you, notice what shows up.
- Have an adventure. Be curious. Be an explorer.
If this blog resonates with you and you want to explore more, please consider connecting with me at erinkmac.com. I have some programs and books coming out shortly to inspire and facilitate change for those who are seeking it and ready to have an adventure.
You can also check out a short five-minute video of the Hero's Journey story from a talk I recently gave.