Updated: Oct 12, 2021
“Only your heart knows your destiny.”
We are all on the hero's journey. The themes and stages of the journey are cyclical and weave through our lives, in books, movies, poems and myth. Joseph Campbell's transformational work on the hero's journey helps us see our lives in a wider context full of meaning and purpose as we go forth on our personal vision quests.
The Call to Adventure
We wake up one morning in our 'ordinary world' feeling restless, unhappy, with a yearning bubbling up inside of us and stare out the window. Maybe we've sent out our intention asking for change and today we feel the wind calling our name. The 'call to adventure' comes in many guises. It's the point in our lives when we are first given notice that something is going to change, whether we're ready or not.
Leela is in her ordinary world feeling abandoned and utterly alone when she encounters a mysterious Raven and receives her call to adventure.
However our call comes, the Universe is giving us a chance to choose a new path. We can refuse the call. This may be from fear, a sense of duty to others, insecurity, or a feeling of inadequacy. But the Universe is endlessly creative, so the call will come again pushing us forward to grow, stretch and become who we are meant to be.
Once the call comes, Leela stands at a threshold crossing where she has to decide whether to leap into the unknown.
Threshold crossings are pivotal points on our journeys where we leave the limits of our everyday world and venture into new realms where the rules are not known. Campbell shares this advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation:
“As you go the way of life, You will see a great chasm.
Jump. It is not as wide as you think.”
Leela's choice at her first threshold crossing will change the course of her life:
“As dusk settled quietly over the meadow, the air had a feeling of magic. In the stillness she felt a memory whispering to her. Closing her eyes, she listened to the night sounds and heard the fluttering of wings. A raven flew out of the evening shadows and landed next to her. The bird’s shiny, black feathers glistened in the moonlight and when she looked into its eyes, the raven stared back. A light drowsiness slipped over her as if the bird had cast a spell.”
“It’s time, Leela. You’re ready to begin your training,” said Raven.
We don't always 'feel ready' when we get the call or when we stand at a threshold crossing. But if we listen to our hearts and take the leap we will discover: “The life that is waiting for us. We match our heartbeat to the beat of the Universe.” (Campbell)
And when we match our heartbeat to the beat of the Universe, the stars shine brighter because another hero and heroine is saying “Yes!” to their adventure.
Exercise: Think back to your own calls to adventure and threshold crossings: List those choices and turning points that helped you grow in ways you never expected. I'll explore more aspects of the hero's journey in future articles for they are universal to all of us.