The Hero's Journey: (Re)Awakening to the Call of Destiny
Three weeks from today I land in Guatemala City, one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world (travel plans - don't worry I don't plan to stay long). It's a huge landing for a significant phase in my longstanding quest for a better way of life -- a life in full alignment with the truth of who I am. I've found that looking through the framework of the archetypal hero's journey allows the essence of the quest to emerge with greater depth and insight.
The most interesting discovery of the past few days has been immense -- it turns out the journey I'm undertaking now is not an entirely new one at all, but the continuation of one that I've been on since New York City circa 2003.
And here's where the story takes an interesting turn -- one that might intersect with your own:
On my return from the first great quest to India in 2005, I was hit hard by what Joseph Campbell terms The Crossing of the Return Threshold:
The returning hero, to complete his adventure, must survive the impact of the world..... The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real, after an experience of the soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life. Why re-enter such a world? Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss?
In my own journey this great crossing stage of integration lasted for many years, driving me close to abandoning the quest altogether, and closer still to madness....
Mastering the Two Worlds
As it turned out, the prerequisite for crossing the return threshold was steep -- Mount Everest steep. If I was to effectively master the integration of what I had learned into my life, I would first have to attain an even higher level of self mastery over all. To truly master myself -- not only in the spiritual, but also the physical form. To be, in essence, a master of two worlds, which is in fact the next and penultimate stage in the classic hero's journey (after the great crossing).
Having been the primary preoccupation of the last 6-7 years of my life, this self mastery in both the spiritual and physical worlds, and the parallel ability to convey it's essence, has been gradually revealed to me.
I haven't yet attained ultimate perfection or conquered all my demons by any means. In so many ways my journey for self-mastery has been, in fact, a quest for my very humanness, or an embrace of the many imperfections of this human existence and form. But there is one truth here I can rightfully claim: After many years of struggle, hardship and doubt, I no longer fear for what the present or future may hold.
In truth, it's only in the past several months that I've come close to a sense of mastering these two worlds. But this is not the last stage of the hero's journey -- that which Campbell terms, 'Freedom to Live' -- in which the hero has earned the right to live as they choose, having conquered the demons within and without.
The Turning Point
Since the time of my decision to leave my Southern Oregon mountain hideaway and venture on this journey, I've been filled with a sense of solid assuredness and strength that carries me through even the darkest hour.
Yes, the occasional anxiety or anger strikes, but when I look at these emotions clearly I can see that beneath the surface experience is simply some truth to face head on. Some something to look at honestly and not to hide from or push away. This practice alone is generally enough to dissolve the emotional experience.
And I have nothing to hide here -- no pretenses or false humility to hide behind -- I am, in fact, quite effortlessly filled with a sense of ease around the circumstances of this life of mine, and it has very little to do with external conditions. I don't have a 401K, savings or investment accounts to lean on in supporting me, though I can see these will come in due time, as my own ability to stand my own ground without any props continues to strengthen.
Surrendering to the Gifts
What I feel and know so strongly in my heart is this: As I truly surrender to the grace of my gifts in this life -- and the strength and grace of the Community -- everything that I need is provided for me. As I dive into these specific gifts, develop them and consistently open to giving more of myself through them, the true value I'm able to provide expands magnificently, and it also circles back to me. And this I have seen over and over in practice this past year and longer.
This sharing of your gifts and receiving the support to stand strong in the two worlds is a principle of universal energy flow. It's an energetic exchange with the universe and humankind.
And in the context of the hero's journey a lot of elements must be in place for this flow to really work:
- Crystal-clear clarity on your mission and goals -- where are you going and what is the purpose?
- Full devotion and commitment to carrying these out -- what are you willing to risk to accomplish the mission?
- An array of tools, knowledge, talismans to support you in carrying it out successfully -- what will you need to actually carry this out?
- A strong personal understanding of your life foundations -- what is the platform that all your work is built on?
- A consistent practice of action around executing it -- what is your action plan, and what are you doing today?
- A great understanding of your particular strengths and weaknesses -- what are blocks and your creative, financial, professional, emotional blocks?
- A strong relationship and understanding of your communities -- how do you interface with the tribe, and what do you bring to the team?
These are some of the core elements I've outlined through inquiry and discovery of my own experience with the hero's journey. As I prepare for this significant stage in my own quest -- what I consider the last and most important stage, and one that I will likely be on for many years -- I'm inquiring deep into these area,s and putting my life to the test to develop a framework that also supports the community of like-minded souls I serve.
It's based on the calling of my spirit, and my own hard-earned experience. And I'm testing it out in real life as I go. This sharing is one big piece of the puzzle -- I must be able to convey the significance of this work, and the way of venturing upon it -- or it's all for naught.
Something to consider
What I will leave you with, then, is something to ponder...
What time in your life have you struggled with the call of destiny, ventured to pursue it, even lived that to a point and then abandoned it after some period of struggle...? Is it possible you're still on this very journey that you thought you had abandoned, or that may have abandoned you...?
Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or 'culture,' the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless—even though, like King Minos, he may through titanic effort succeed in building an empire or renown. Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his minotaur. All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration. - Joseph Campbell, Hero With A Thousand Faces
What I propose to you now, is that the call is still there now, waiting for you to pick it up again -- only that you may need to see it with new eyes, to allow it to be what it wants to be now. Any 'project' is simply the product of a call of destiny, though it may not be the call itself necessarily.
At the core of every great desire to create, to produce and build something great, is the intital impulse -- the spark that drove the passion.
If you can reclaim that spark, and allow the product of that spark to evolve into what you now know, you may find the power and strength -- the Grace -- to lift yourself up and accomplish the great goal. To venture again into your own hero's journey. To re-awaken the dream.
It is a great and worthy and beautiful journey... my spirit is with you.
I'm tracking my journey for a very special group project I will be launching from Central America. If you're interested in learning more and joining the initial exploration team you can go here: The Hero's Journey Project
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