GOOD FIND HELDRASTOCK!!!

Though you may not think of yourself as a hero, you do play the starring role in the story of your life journey. It’s a story you’ve been composing since you took your first breath–maybe even before. Many people have acted as guides, teachers, and mentors to help and inspire you along the way. Some may also have suggested how you should live your life and the path you should follow. But ultimately, it’s your story, your life, your journey that required you to make difficult choices and carry out heroic actions to bring you to the chapter you’re in presently.

The word hero literally means “protector” or “defender.” You have played the role of protecting and defending who you are, what you believe in, and whom and what you care about. Yet, along your life path, your core values probably were challenged periodically. If you have ever asked yourself, “What am I supposed to be doing in this situation?” or “What do I really believe to be true?” you can identify with the hero’s journey.

“Hero’s journey” is a term coined by mythologist Joseph Campbell. He referred to it as a monomyth, basically the same story told over and over again through the ages. The plot line of the tale is about something of incalculable value that has been lost and must be found. The principal character, or the self, must do the finding. The essential, underlying theme of this story is searching for meaning in our lives and finding our calling. The hero’s journey is the theme of countless stories in literature and popular culture–”Casablanca,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Star Wars,” to name a few.

Awaken to the call

The hero’s journey usually begins when you feel something is amiss, something has been taken from you or is lacking in your life. You feel called to make something right, recover what has been lost, or discover or give birth to something new. Campbell taught that most heroes feel unprepared for, ill-equipped for, and uncertain of the journey. This uncertainty forces you to uncover a deep inner strength and awareness to help you meet the obstacles encountered and accept whatever help or guidance is offered.

It’s often said that people don’t change until they hurt bad enough. The call to change or let go of someone or something–that relationship or unfulfilling job–may linger for years. A part of you wants something better, but there is the fear of how you’ll be able to manage, how you’ll live without that person.

Early in my working life I returned from vacation to a job I’d been at for 15 years to what was essentially a demotion. I called a friend, who said to me, “You don’t have to stay there.” What a revelation! Before I gave fear a chance to hold me back, I spontaneously answered the call and walked out on the spot. Subsequently, all the emotions poured out as I began to find my way. Friends helped me overcome my fears and feelings of inadequacy, guiding me down an entirely new and fulfilling path filled with growth, new skills, and many more adventures.

Journey into the unknown

Many life circumstances may require you to take this journey into places you have never been before. A journey may be short, or it may last many years. Moving from childhood through puberty and teenage years to adulthood is a massively transformative experience we all share, being tested and challenged along the way. The hero’s journey can be experienced in career transitions, relationships, serious illnesses, and major losses of all kinds. Before you embark, you may think you know who you are and what you believe in and care about. But this may change while you’re on the journey.  At times you may feel like you are fighting dragons and demons, like you’re being rocked to your spiritual core; you may even question your faith.

“Superman” movie hero Christopher Reeve, who later became a quadriplegic, defined a hero as “an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  We’ve all had to overcome what may have seemed like overwhelming obstacles. Becoming a hero may be stimulated by a passion for helping others or a desire to support a cause or right an injustice.

Parents, teachers, clergy, activists, firefighters, rescue teams, and military forces do these things every day as part of their defined roles. True heroes do not think of themselves as heroes at all. They just do what feels like the right thing to do. Even if none of these roles have been yours, you have been called to put your best self forward in your work, for your family, or in other aspects of your life.

Giving birth is one form of a heroic journey. No matter how much you may have learned ahead of time, you are unprepared for the actual physical changes and challenges you encounter. This heroism is immediately followed by a brand new journey and responsibility of caring for an infant.  Having just returned home with her firstborn, an overwhelmed friend found herself asking, “… they trusted me to take this child home?” Another mother shared, “I don’t know how I ever had the courage to have another child!”

Your calling

Campbell believed that heroes give their lives to something bigger than themselves. Have you found that “something bigger” to give yourself to? If not, perhaps you are now ready to do so. It’s a journey worth taking and may be the very reason for your being here.

This journey may begin by opening your awareness to messages from people or situations that may be asking you to consider something more for your life. The journey may be one of inner spiritual exploration, some form of study or training, or connecting your heart to a cause or mission. Your calling may have nothing to do with “doing” something, but rather with “being” more fully in the life you are living.

The journey of uncovering your calling may be fraught with fears and obstacles, trial and error. However, your greatest courage is often revealed when you allow yourself to follow your heart, to listen to your inner voice.

Oprah Winfrey said, “The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.” Each time you embark on the hero’s journey, it leads you closer to realizing your true self. Take the journey and allow yourself to answer your call.

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