“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
To feel passionate and free. Successful. I mean beyond the limitations of everyday dreams for fame, fortune, etc. Meaning you love your life. Regardless of your challenges and struggles. That despite the inevitable setbacks, disappointments and heartbreaks you are filled with gratitude for the privilege of being alive. For being you. That you find meaning in your existence. How sublime is that.
Stop and think for a moment. Whatever you are struggling with, no matter how unique it may seem to your personal situation here in this Facebook-world of instant communication, it has all in one form or another been a challenge to millions of your ancestors before you.
And after countless years of trials and errors, certain of these clever ancestors came up with remarkable solutions on how to deal with the ups and downs of the world, and how to make this rollercoaster of life work for you. Even make you a better person in the process. A person of heroic stature.
The problem is, if you are like most of us, that empowering part of your heritage was not exactly highlighted in your school classroom. And as anyone with a touch of reflective thought can readily see, that particular set of clever solutions was never meant to be a part of the program in the first place, never part of a system designed to matriculate cookie-cutter graduates who would fit nicely into the pre-designed jobs and careers that awaited them. Learning to think for themselves or attuning to the greatness in their individual voices, their unique individual contributions, or standing outside the box of cookie-cutter-dom, was never a requisite before being stamped ‘fully developed’. Degree and cap held high in hand.
Heroes, on the other hand, are never cookie-cutter. They stand out from the norm. They do so to accomplish great things. And they accomplish great things because they will not settle for anything less. And that in essence describes you, or at least the you who is striving to assume this honorable mantle or you wouldn’t be reading this.
The real you, not the imagined one you fantasize about being, must step out into the unknown and take a deep breath – and tell a story. Tell your story. The journey begins as simple as that. And while taking that breath look closely at your life. Not so much the life you have already lived, but the one that is coming at you just over the horizon.
The hero’s journey is never a backward looking one where you beat up on yourself about all the stupid mistakes you’ve made along the way. That obsession with the past is the focus of the Martyr (or Victim), and Martyr is the flipside of the coin of Hero. And like a coin, you cannot come up both heads and tails at the same time. So choose wisely to be the Hero. (Or go find a course about the Victim’s Journey.)
You can choose a different way to interpret your story. Write a different ending. A story of triumph. Thomas Moore, the author of Care of the Soul and Soulmates, and one of my favorite human beings in the world talks about what it takes to Care for the Soul. It’s profoundly beautiful understanding of life lived close to soul, vs spirit. How to find a balance between the two. It’s one of the best explanations I have ever heard.
He also says that the people he knows who’ve had to endure terrible loss and tragedy and heartbreak in their Life are some of the most alive people he’s ever met. That their heartbreak somehow made them deeper as people and they know what matters and what does not.
The journey of life is a never ending journey of learning to love and trust again.