Your Hero's Journey: The Adventure of You
Right now, at this very moment you read this, something is calling your soul. Hard core.
What is it you hear?
Write that down. I promise this is worth is.
Maybe it’s something you’ve been feverishly obsessing about. Writing that book. Finally putting that event together. Traveling to India. Opening a store. Talking to that person.
Or maybe it’s more subtle, like a gentle hum in the back of your mind, a cord of harmony emanating from your heart, singing…
“I wonder if I could…”
This is the call of the Hero. Joseph Campbell outlines this in detail in his study of the hero’s journey. This is the underlying model of all adventures, and why we love Disney films so gash darn much.
Here’s how the Journey unfolds…
1. Call to Adventure: The Hero is bumbling about her normal, ordinary, pretty comfortable life. Out of nowhere, the Hero receives her “call to adventure.” Whether it’s a quiet or blaring call, it’s a call nonetheless.
2. Refusing the Call: The Hero says, “Hell, f*cking no I ain’t doing that! That’s crazy! I’m staying here in the comfy ‘known’ ” and refuses the Call.
3. Supernatural Aide: Some form of supernatural aid comes in. A mysterious object, a being, a coincidence (like an article recommending you go on your adventure already ;) )
4. Crossing the First Threshold: Hero decides to say “F*ck it” and goes on her wild ass adventure.
5. Belly of the Whale: Hero goes into the wild unknown and deep transformation, leaving the old world as she knew it.
6. Road of Trials: Hero experiences several tasks and obstacles on her path. Basically, all that stuff that goes wrong on the bumpy way to her destiny.
7. Meeting with the Goddess: Hero meets with Unconditional all-powerful love.
8. Temptation: Hero struggles with temptation and distraction and almost departs her path.
9. Atonment with the Father: Hero faces and is intiated by the authority in her life to be her own leader. This is the center point in the journey.
10. Apostasis: Hero “dies” a shamanistic death of self.
11. The Ultimate Boon: Hero achieves the goal of the quest. All the previous stages have served to prepare and purify her for this step.
12. Refusal of Return: The Hero may not want to return to the other world, having found bliss and enlightenment.
13. Magic Flight: The Hero may need to escape with the Boon, and this can be just as dangerous returning as it was to go on the journey.
14. Rescue from Without: The Hero may need a powerful guide or support of friends in order to bring them back to everyday life.
15. Crossing the Return Threshold: Hero becomes self-assured, receiving physical gifts and emotional rewards. Personal limitations are broken and she can see how the mission is to be completed.
16. Master of Two Worlds: By the end of the adventure, the Hero has interwoven the old ways of thinking into the new ways of being – creating ONE world. The Hero chooses to not “go back” to the old way.
17. Freedom to Live: Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is freedom to live.
The Hero’s Journey is far from easy or glamorous. It is grueling. That road of trials is an inferno. But it’s exactly that fire that reveals the part of her she never knew existed.
What calls deeply to you is not going to be as easy as walking into the kitchen and grabbing a muffin (although, believe you me, that does call to me!)
It also doesn’t have to “look” a certain way. You can be on an adventure in a relationship. In you PJs on your living room couch. In your office. Walking down the street. Adventure is not just about the outer journey – it’s the inner exploration.
Think of a time in your life when you embarked on your own Hero’s Journey.
One of my personal favorites in my own life was when I was in college. I was in my second year at the University of Virginia, doing the “normal” college thing – going to parties, making it to class, and eating hot pockets to save my cash.
But then a jewelry party, of all the things, is what changed my life.
It was a fundraiser for children’s cancer research. The gal who put it together was leading an event called St. Baldrick’s.
I vividly recall sitting on the couch, looking at earrings, when a couple of our mutual girlfriends walked in. They had beanies pulled over their ears, with their hair tucked underneath.
“We want to see what we will look like when we shave our heads!” they exclaimed.
See, St. Baldrick’s is a volunteer run organization and it’s the largest non-governmental fundraiser for children’s cancer research. And they do it by people shaving their heads.
When I first heard about it (ahem, The Call), I though “No way! That is crazy! I applaud them, but me, I am keeping my goldilocks hair.” (Refusing The Call)
But seeing these women walk in (enter supernatural aide), I could feel their confidence, excitement, and enthusiasm radiating off of their soon-to-be bald heads. The inspiration was contagious.
Before I knew it, I had traded the jewelry for a laptop and was entering my name in to sign my 18inches of blonde hair up. There was no thinking. (Crossing the First Threshold).
I answered The Call.
I was beyond ecstatic. I felt like I was part of something so much bigger than me. I knew this was what I wanted to do.
I called my family to tell them the euphoric news… (entering the Belly of the Whale)
And tumbled through the Road of Trials.
“You’re crazy!” my mom said.
My sister responded with a half-screech, half-cry that ended with her bawling and hanging up on me.
But Dad was the scariest. I saved him for last. When I told him what I was doing, I got… crickets. Literally longest silence ever on the phone.
But I was determined. I had months of fundraising ahead of me. I baked goods (see, I told you muffins called to me!), hosted keg parties (hey, I wasn’t at the point on my journey where I had given up all my old ways just yet), and wrote over 100 letters raising awareness for the cause and requesting donations.
My goal was to raise as much money as the organizer did the previous year, which was $6000. When I told my boss at my part-time job, I braced myself for the “you are out of your mind” spiel. Instead what I got was, “You’re going to raise $10,000” (Meeting with the Goddess). To which I promptly responded to her, “You are out of your mind.”
But I set my goal for ten grand and didn’t think much of it. I just kept fundraising. Every time I checked my fundraising page, I always felt a surge of hope and joy. Donations were coming in. Interestingly enough, I felt the same amount of joy whether it was $5 or $500. It just felt good to be part of something bigger.
Of course there were times when I felt conscious and questioned myself. A good friend of mine said I was doing all this for “attention.” It hurt. And although I knew I would follow through with this, there were moments when I’d look at my hair and wonder if I was doing the right thing. (Temptation)
But through the process, I came to terms with this. I decided that if me getting “attention” helped someone else, then I would be a total ham.
Two days before the event, I had raised just over $6000. I was super proud of myself (since that was my “original” goal). I was also so grateful because so much of my family and friends had donated, even my mom and dad. Over winter break, my sister can come up to me and handed me $80 cash with a hug. My dad was even coming to see me the day of the head-shaving event (Atonement with the Father).
After class, I walked home with that very same friend and booted up my laptop to show her my page and the funds raised.
When the page loaded, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Something so much bigger than me had taken over. (Apostasis)
Someone had made an over $4000 donation. My fundraising was over $11,000. (The Ultimate Boon).
I nearly swooned in my bed, (Refusal of Return) but the excitement kept me going.
The night of the event, I sat on stage, and was handed big braids of my hair to put in a bag for wig-donations (Magic Flight). My friends greeted me with head rubs as I stepped off the stage (Rescue from Without).
When I walked into class the next day (crossing the return threshold) I realized this wasn’t just about the hair. Or the money.
It was about the absolute freedom. (Master of two worlds).
There is this inner knowing and confidence when you get to have an physically and emotionally freeing experience, that also helps someone else (aka receiving personal gifts and emotional rewards). The most breathtaking part of it all is that when we heal ourselves, we heal the world.
Because you know you don’t need it. (Freedom to Live).
Whatever it is you have to give up along the journey needs to go anyways. Because as you let it go, you realize you are enough.
Just as you are.
I touched my bald head with tears in my eyes, because I had come full circle. I had reached my destination and on the way realized how much support we all give each other.
On your own adventure, whatever it is, just know that you make all the difference in the world.
So, go on, answer your Call.