What if we viewed our lives as call and response? In kirtan practice the leader of a chant sings (the call) and participants respond through sharing their own voice, their own expression of the chant.
What if life is offering you a call through that inner voice, felt sense of knowing, or feeling of yearning, fear, excitement, or even aversion?
What if you took the time to settle inside, deeply listen, and be guided and changed by what you hear?
Decades ago I came across Joseph Campbell’s ‘hero’s journey’ framework and in the last four years have experienced and witnessed it’s playing out in the lives and work of myself, UTAS students, and others. The journey begins with the ‘call to adventure’ and it ends with returning to the world somehow changed, with revealed gifts to share, with a response that, it seems to me, is always an expression of the flow of the river of Grace.
I invite you to pause here, to take a moment to identify a past or current hero’s journey in your life. What was or is the call, what was or is your response, what was or is the elixir, the gift you bring to the world as a result?
2024 for me has begun with a hero’s journey that is a journey in a very literal sense. A walk. The Overland Track. After months of information gathering, gear gathering, food preparing, and logistics, we set off January 2, the second anniversary of being with my mother as she exhaled her last breath and completed a journey.
Thousands of people walk the Overland track every year and it has me wondering at how this journey plays out for each unique individual, and what about it might be universal. For me one day stands out as transformational. The day we added the Mt Ossa summit as a side trip.
I’ve never been a climber. 25 years ago did a brief stint in a climbing gym, had a crack at Mt Shasta but turned back due to freezing snow. Bagging peaks has not been my thing and age and fear has heightened my risk aversion, I now realise, to unnecessary levels. Starting the Ossa climb with, ‘I’ll go up as far as I am ‘comfortable’’ received the response from one of my daughters, ‘you are capable of more than you think’, and the other, ‘it’s just yoga on rocks’.
Long story short, I called on courage from deep inside, took each moment at a time, and pushed back the fear of ‘how the heck will I get down from here’. I made it to the top and felt the expansiveness of inner and outer landscapes.
This hero’s journey (Mt Ossa climb) as part of a bigger hero’s journey (Overland Track walk) found me back at the track junction transformed. Courageous, in a similar way to my first free balance headstand experience which also called on resources deep inside.
I am left recognising how easy it could be for me to use aging (after all I am almost 60) as an excuse to not step up and answer the many calls to adventure that could be to come. I don’t just mean the physical ones, but the relational ones, the spiritual ones, the attitudinal ones. The growing and learning edges.
It is my hope that I can share resources, practices, perhaps offer reminders, to encourage your deepest listening and your innate courage. Can you hear the call to adventure?