As animals, we all eat, sleep, mate and protect ourselves.
As humans, we grow, create, explore and share our discoveries because we are wired to communicate and connect.
We write and tell stories to relate to each other, to tell our own unique experience of a shared path of what it means to be alive.
But what can we learn about life in those stories?
Esteemed author and scholar Joseph Campbell answered that in his book, The Hero’s Journey. He dedicated his life to exploring the myths of cultures across all millennia. He realized there is a pattern in the stories we tell that highlights the human experience and what gives it meaning.
Sharing of our stories is experienced everywhere. We see it in songs, movies, poems and stories with many artists attributing it as an inspiration or creative source for their work, like Bob Dylan and Stephen Spielberg.
It starts with “the call to adventure.” Sounds cool right?
The call to adventure is a wink from the universe. It is what life throws at us so we will consider going on a quest to discover our highest potential. This quest is scary because it requires a big change, but also exciting because it feels possible.
This calling can show up as boredom, feeling stuck, a stroke of inspiration, a craving for something more, an unexpected surprise or a big life event. If this calling is ignored, it moves from a mere suggestion to a stage five clinger. You cannot unhear it.
I started hearing the call after returning from an epic month in South Africa.
I could not settle back into work after my return. My job had turned into something that no longer felt exciting. When I looked at the road I was on once I was home, I realized I didn’t want to go there. An idea of moving abroad to immerse in unknowns and figure out what I really wanted to do starting appearing in my thoughts.
We have arrived now at the “threshold”—the portal to unfamiliar territory. Congratulations Hero!
Immersing ourselves into this unfamiliar territory can point us to what we do know. What we absolutely know inside is brought to the surface by the tension of otherness that is now surrounding us when we step outside of our comfort zone.
For me the threshold was a physical border, although it may be different for others. I sold my house, car and all my stuff. I left my corporate job and headed to Argentina. I had nothing more than a three night reservation and serendipity as my compass.
Now we’re in the heart of things, the “road of trials.” This is where anything can and does usually happen. The hero is now an explorer. Curiosity and courage are rewarded. She will be tested and tempted and will encounter her greatest fears. She will also find teachers and allies to help her along.
This is the “what was I thinking?! ” part—the hard part. We have to dig deep and keep our eye on the prize by remembering what the vision was. This is where we learn what we are afraid of and capable of. What turns us off and what turns us on.
My journey was filled with all these things. I had made sacrifices. At times, I felt lonely. I cried. I questioned myself with whether or not this was worth it?
What if I don’t find what I’m looking for and I’m left with nothing? What if I do find it and can’t make it work? What if I go broke, get hurt? All these fears showed up and tried to keep me small.
I learned that fears are information about something unresolved though.
They are only as strong as the energy we feed them and on the other side of fear is freedom. I found that freedom by learning my process. By getting to the source of that fear and choosing to not be held back. What was at stake was too great.
As I climbed mountains, my heart exploded from lack of oxygen and for the love of the challenge. I discovered my process for moving forward when all energy seems to be pushing against me.
As I stood on the summit, looking at the valleys and peaks below, I felt empowered. As I cycled toward the horizon, it kept moving and so did I. As I explored the jungle I learned how I approach situations, decisions and problems.
I discovered what I love and why I’m alive.
But now it’s time to die. Now don’t freak out, this is the good kind of death.
The hero is challenged with a final battle. A test or tipping point that is akin to a death in that the hero now goes through the metamorphosis that she’s been seeking and is transformed—think butterflies.
The hero is no longer who she was when she started this journey. We come out of the test knowing our unique purpose and having everything we need to live it. We now understand the journey helped us build towards this all along. It has brought us full circle to what has always been within us.
For two years in South America, I discovered layers of who I am.
I found that I love to facilitate personal transformation. I love to take photographs and use adventure stories to inspire and influence positive change. And now it is time to share that. Now that we are truly the hero it is time to share our discoveries. We make the choice to return from our quest and be of service to our community. We give from the point where our passions, talents, experiences meet a need in the world.
We are each incredibly unique. There will never be another you or another me ever again and with that comes great responsibility and opportunity. The opportunity lies when we understand how we can take what we care about the most and be of service with it.
The world needs you to do what only you were born to do and this is not selfish at all, it is necessary in order for you to be the hero of your own story.
So what is your story? What is your hero’s journey?
This is an invitation to share it. This is the call to adventure.
Author: Erin Mac
Apprentice Editor: Debbi Serafinchon / Sara Kärpänen
Photo: Author’s Own