“She was never crazy, she just didn’t let her heart settle in a cage. She was born wild, and sometimes we need people like her. For it’s the horrors in her heart which cause the flames in ours. And she was always willing to burn for everything she has ever loved.” ~ R. M. Drake
I remember standing in my kitchen on that warm June afternoon.
I had just finished putting away groceries. I stopped at the dining room table and picked up my phone—not because anyone had called or messaged, but out of habit.
Mindlessly scrolling through various apps on my phone was a tactic of distraction from the ever-present, yet vague, sense of dissatisfaction that was growing within me.
Disinterestedly, I skimmed over an online article.
In my attempt to escape the monotony of the mundane, my eyes read while my mind fled. Somehow, magic found me.
I only remember that article, that day, that moment, because what awaited me within the words I skimmed over that day was nothing short of life-changing. Within the article was a story about two lovers. Specifically, what has remained etched into my memory was the response of the older woman to her younger lover, who, when overcome with remorse, confessed her betrayal.
The response of the betrayed lover was not at all what I expected, and as I read it, something shifted—something big. Suddenly, I found myself speaking aloud to an empty house, “I want to be like that.”
Looking back, it was that moment, that statement, that decision, which really set into motion what was to follow in my life. More importantly, what is now clear is the truth of that statement I had spoken aloud to an empty house on that June afternoon. With that statement, I made a decision, and that decision was the catalyst for what was to become an arduous and epic personal journey.
There was a great distance between the person I was and the person I would have to become in order to “be like that.”
My dissatisfaction with life had been growing. A deeper, more authentic version of myself was breaking the surface, fighting for air after being held down for too long—I was in the midst of an awakening.
The longer I tried to remain in my comfort zone, burying my head in the sand, the greater my discomfort with being in the world became. As more time went by, what I never questioned to be a life filled with infinite support for me to grow and transform proved itself more and more to be suffocating. What I counted on to be there suddenly wasn’t.
In actuality, I was being stripped of anything that was not in alignment with my most authentic self.
The spark that ignited within me when I read the story of the lovers that day was my call to adventure. It had opened a door within me that could not be closed again. It brought the possibility of a new way of being in the world into my conscious awareness. In doing this, it presented me with a problem—because of this new awareness, my life no longer worked for me the way it did.
I have discovered that this call is more of a directive from the universe than an invitation. It is a summons to follow that spark of inspiration above all else, even if—especially if—it means leaving behind everything we know and all that we hold to be safe and true.
To refuse the call is to sit in false security, complacent, as our souls slowly suffocate. To accept is to allow ourselves to be tempted further and further into the unknown, as we chase that spark, until we suddenly realize we have passed the point of no return.
By then, we are too far separated from the life we knew to go back to it. It is only then that we understand there is only moving forward into the unknown—there is no going back. Only in hindsight will we see this as the beginning of our descent into an abyss of the unknown to face the most difficult challenges of our lives.
In The Hero with A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes this call to adventure (a problem or a challenge that arises that cannot be ignored) to be the first step a “hero” takes on Campbell’s famous outline of the mythological “Hero’s Journey.” Campbell says, “This first step…signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown.”
What was to follow…
Attached to my false sense of security, derived from my day-to-day life, I wholeheartedly resisted heeding the call. What I had experienced on that warm June afternoon when I spoke those words aloud to an empty house was the kind of magic that pumped pure oxygen to that first spark of inspiration.
It awakened me to new possibilities that fed my soul and, in the process, increased my discomfort with my life as it was, slowly pulling me away and separating me from it. But I was afraid of leaving my comfort zone. I didn’t even know how to make it happen. But this only created more discomfort and conflict.
After awakening must come “the descent.” We cannot go backward in consciousness and “un-know” what we have come to know, so then the only way out becomes through. We must step forward and journey into the unknown, like all the great heroes and heroines, gods and goddesses of the myths that came before.
There was a great distance between the person I was and the person I would have to become in order to “be like that.” The reality was that I didn’t even truly know who I was. I had no self-esteem. I was living in a fog of denial—and had been almost all of my life—and I didn’t even know it.
What became alarmingly apparent before even those points were crystallized was that I had been tempted further and further away from the life I knew and had not been aware when I slipped past the point of no return.
There was no turning back. My only option was to go forward and face the unknown.
The only way out would be through.
Like Campbell’s hero and the gods and goddesses of myth, I stepped forth into the unknown, on that infamous journey to the east (the journey from darkness to enlightenment) from which no man (or woman) ever returns.
And I did so quite unwittingly.
And so my Great Descent began.