How to follow your deepest calling and live your life as a magical adventure
The Call to Adventure
If you’ve ever heard the quote by Helen Keller…. “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing” …..you may be forgiven for feeling daunted.
Maybe that’s because you’re standing on the threshold of a new adventure right now. There’s a new direction you want to follow, or new opportunities are opening up for you, or things at last are beginning to shift in your life. You can feel the energy moving in you and you’re daunted by the bigness of it, because you don’t know quite where to start.
Or you may be daunted because you’re experiencing the exact opposite. You’d love to have more adventures in your life. You know there’s a spirit of adventure in you that’s calling for you to break out in some way, to start out in a new direction, or to live your life in a more inspiring and authentic way.
And you feel an excitement at the thought of that. Even if you don’t know quite where it’s coming from, or what that adventure might be. All you know is that your life right now is not feeling much like an adventure. It’s just one series of things you have to do… rent or mortgage that has to be paid so therefore you can’t. Or you’ve created a very comfortable life for yourself but it’s not the life you really want, you’re not making use of your talents.
In truth you know that you’re in hiding.
You may relate to the predicament of the main character in the film Evening, an old woman lying on her death bed (marvellously played by Vanessa Redgrave) who realises she made a terrible mistake when she was young. Harris is the only man she ever loved and she didn’t grab the opportunities to follow the calling of her heart. Instead she chose to do what other people expected of her, and so both she and Harris married other people and never got to experience the happiness they really wanted.
She had received what Joseph Campbell calls “The Call to Adventure” and she had not acted on it, and thus she finds herself going over and over again the missed opportunities when she failed to “grasp the nettle”. And this of course is very painful.
Perhaps you too can remember back to a time when you had an opportunity to live your life and you were just not ready to take advantage of it then. And so you wonder what you life might be like now if you only had….
Or perhaps you did, and now wish you hadn’t … because the consequences were disastrous. Perhaps you find yourself impulsively jumping from place to place, from one adventure to the next, or doing one “stupid thing after another” and so are too frightened to stick your head above the parapet once more.
And this is equally painful.
Receiving the Call to Adventure
Or perhaps you were like me, and you had very few expectations for your life, you never dreamed that your life could amount to anything very much… and then you met someone, or you read a book, or something happened that caused your life to go off on a completely different direction… and you experienced the WOW factor – when something deep and powerful in you began to wake up.
After that your life can never be the same again
For me that happened when I found myself in hospital, a consequence of going down the wrong path and I met a nurse who was at Drama School who changed the course of my life. Up to then drama had no interest for me. Yet there was something about the meeting with this nurse that woke something up in me, and I couldn’t ignore it.
It set me on a path which has had many twists and turns. I have made mistakes, taken wrong turnings from time to time, and the pathway has by no means been straightforward.. but ultimately the path has lead me to living a life which I can only describe as a daring adventure, in which I have done many extraordinary things, and achieved many things that were well beyond the realms of possibility.
When you receive the Call to Adventure, you will know it. You will know it because you will feel it throughout your being. You may be daunted by the call, you may be terrified, you may be excited and inspired but you will not be able to forget it. Even if you ignore the call, it will come back again and again to remind you that you received it and have not yet acted on it.
The Call Will Not Give Up On You
But unlike Anne Grant, the heroine of the film Evening, the Call will not give up on you. You will always be given another chance even if it seems you have turned your back fiercely against your calling. But you must stay awake and alert to hear the “Call”.
Calls can come in many forms. They can be received at any time in your life. They can arrive in childhood or they can come much later on – even at the end of your life as in the case of Anne Grant. It can never be too late to receive a call.
They can be in any area of life: career, relationship, travel, home, health, family. They can be spiritual or materialistic.
Calls can be big or small. A small call maybe the first step to a much bigger calling. In my own life the meeting with the nurse got me started. It got me to ask my friend to fetch all the unread plays I had on my bookshelf, to going to the theatre and to enrolling on a truly dreadful drama course – which might have put me off forever.
If I had known what my true calling was then, or what it would take to get where I am now, I would probably have put my head in the sand and stayed with the familiar and safe life I knew – a life in which I was frustrated, unfulfilled and actually making myself ill.
In life we receive many calls. In a meaningful life, you will move from one calling to the next. Whether it is to pursue a course of study, move to a new place, start a new relationship or even as simple as receiving a call to go down to the shops. In fact that apparently mundane trip to the shops may lead you to a whole new calling. You may meet someone at the shops, or witness an event that will completely change the course of your life.
In fact the most potent calls often take the form of a severe challenge: losing a job, a relationship breaking up, a health situation, a death, losing a large sum of money. However negative and inconvenient these events might be they will wake you up to facing many things in your life.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich points out that it is often in these moments that true opportunity knocks on our door even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. But if you can stay open to the message that lies within pain and grief of the situation, then you can make a paradigm shift in your life. And this will inevitably lead you either to great wealth, great happiness or to finding what your life really is all about.
Discovering Your Calling
Many people who come to my workshops and groups discover their calling. They receive inspiration for the work they really want to do, or they discover what really brings them alive, or they get powerful insights into an issue that had previously perplexed them.
One participant in a recent workshop who had great potential and wondered why he could never make the breakthrough that he so wanted in spite of the numerous personal growth workshops he had done. In one of the creative exercises, he was able to access the secret language of his unconscious. And thus was able to decode the powerful messages that his unconscious had for him.
And what his unconscious was telling him was that what he had perceived as his WOW (and thus living his life in a more fulfilling way) was actually deadening and constricting him, and what he perceived as blocking this pathway – which appeared on the surface to be dangerous to him – actually had the power to liberate him.
What shook him to his core was the realisation that he had probably been operating from this upside down position for most of his life. That his perceptions of what was safe and what was dangerous were completely reversed. Thus he had an opportunity to start operating from the opposite position so his life could begin to take on a whole new dimension – in which he could indeed start living his life as a daring adventure.
Exercise to Access Your Calling
Your unconscious holds keys to your potential and possible futures and so I offer this exercise to enable you to access this powerful resource that lies within you. This exercise is good to do even if you’re clear about your path. You may receive confirmation of that path or valuable new information.
Close your eyes and take a few breaths. With your out-breath concentrate on letting go and releasing all your mind chatter and the peripheral things of your life.
After a few breaths switch to focusing on you in-breath. Experience the “inspiration” of your in-breath, breathing into yourself and the core of who you are. It may be easier to focus on your solar plexus.
In your imagination take yourself to place in nature where you feel comfortable and at ease. Take in your surroundings, all the smells and sounds. And then after a while call out to the Spirit of Imagination to show you your calling. Allow whatever comes. It could be an image, a symbol, colours, or a feeling, or something more conceptual. Don’t worry if what comes makes little sense to you. Be grateful for what you receive whatever it is.
Be interested in what you are seeing or experiencing. Ask for it to unfold. Follow it for as long as it feels interesting to you. “Return gently and reflect on your experience. Write down too any insights, thoughts or reflections that come to you. Let yourself dream a little. You can do this over a series of days and see if a pattern emerges.
Interpreting The Results
Interpreting the results is a tricky things because what is coming through to you is expressed in the language of the unconscious… but trust what does arrive, and give yourself space and time to let this unfold in its own time. Keep a look out for things or people that turn up in your life that might be assisting you to get clearer about your pathway forward.
© Claire Schrader 2012
Are you standing on the threshold of a new adventure right now? Or is life is calling you to discover what truly excites you and brings you alive? If this article has intrigued you, inspired you or if you have any questions, or there’s something you’d like to share please do leave a comment. Your comments may inspire others or check out my upcoming events and see what calls to you?
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