A Hero’s Journey: The Call to Adventure

A Hero’s Journey: The Call to Adventure
by Michelle Katz

It has been a little over one year since I returned to Santa Fe after nearly 6 years of being on what I refer to as my epic Hero’s Journey.  As with all good journeys, my journey began far before the journey itself.  And as I currently sit in the place of the Return Home phase of my journey, I find myself often reflecting on that wild, uncertain, and overwhelmingly difficult time.  (Not that the Return Home seat is less challenging.)

Being back in Santa Fe, I am reminded of moments of a past life, the person I once was who feels like such a stranger to me now.  Many corners, streets, and mountain tops have memories lurking in the shadows and crevices of adobe, brick, and rock.  I morn, long for and laugh at the beautiful innocence and naiveté of that youthful woman I once was and how she lives in me now in such a different way.  I often conjure her up for a good conversation, hoping to mentor her as others have mentored me.

Often, I find myself in reflection of that ripe time right before the journey.  I recall the mission I felt I had in the education and work I was doing, getting my Masters in Counseling and running an education program for teens.  I recalled my ambitions, working with at-risk teens and different cultures and really making a difference in this world, only to one day have my own private practice.  I recalled believing I was taking all the right steps toward creating the life I wanted, I had a partner I was sure I was going to marry and have kids with, and we were both working toward our dream career.

Then, I recall moments of great knowing that I often ignored in order to continue on in this Ordinary World.  I remembered driving home from class one night, 9:30pm, and stopping at a stop sign close to my house, when an initiative wave hit me, something telling me, this relationship was not going to work out and it will not end well.  But I came home, greeted my partner and carried on as if it was nothing to trust, as there were no real issues in the relationship.  Then I recall my first wilderness quest, and my intention: freedom.  And I remember returning back from the quest, feeling freedom through the experience and work I did on the quest, but the only concrete action I took to feel this in my ordinary world was leaving my job in order to finish my education.  (Laughing at the word “finish” in terms of education.)  I declined the call to also experience the freedom of trauma, past and present, or the freedom of by personhood, of being, the freedom of the wilderness inside of me, or the freedom of the feminine, or the freedom of all ideas of what life is and could be. Nope, I simply left my job, and pressed forward in all other ways, business as usual. 

However, the most astonishing thing about a Wilderness Quest rites-of-passage is that if you carry on in the business-as-usual sort of way, the incorporation process ensures that you truly live into what you marked out on the land.  There is no way to escape your Hero’s Journey, once you have faced yourself in the wilderness.  After my first rite-of-passage quest, I saw that all the previous ways I would avoid the Call to Adventure, would no longer suffice.  I had to go. I had to meet the call. Once I acknowledged the end and beginning of something with time on the land and in council with my community, I could no longer hide from what was needed to grow me.

The call to adventure is the point in a person’s life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.
— Joseph Campbell

It was in this time, that everything I wanted to avoid, I began to approach.  With so many questions and feelings of confusion, I moved forward and away to find truths.  I came to a big realization that the things that happened along the way, the things that had me falling to my knees day in and day out on this journey, was all about what I was really calling in, it just looked different than I had hoped.  And this is the process of initiation, the meeting of one’s self fully, in play, depth, gifts and spirit.  My Call to Adventure meant leaving Santa Fe and the life and friends I cherished, it meant ending a long-term relationship, it meant finding a way to meet my family as equals rather than the perpetual child they would believe me to be, it meant trying many different careers and being uncertain of what the dream life was.  It meant not being lied to by myself or others and how truths can define us, revealing our courage and our purpose.

So in summer of 2011, I believed that I was Returning Home, by moving back to Ohio, the place I grew up, returning for the first time in my adult life.  But truly, that move was finally accepting my Call to Adventure.  I left home, my true home, Santa Fe, and began my journey to realize the world and my life is not what I thought it would be.  Every step along the way, the journey revealed some big, heavy and important truth of this life and the world.  I crossed the threshold into the unknown and I am forever changed for it.

Over the next few weeks, I will continue to explore and share my Hero’s Journey over the last 7 years, from this initial Threshold Crossing, to the Great Abyss and The Ordeal, all the way to the Return Home this past year, being back in Santa Fe. 

Are you being called?  Do you refuse the call?  What has or will bring you to the threshold? Come explore your Hero’s Journey with Oaks Counsel for our next Day Quest, on March 25th, learn more about this journey and how it lives in you.