This is often one of the biggest decisions we have to make from time to time. It calls for all of our creative and intuitive decision making courage.
Often it is a very powerful urge to go and do something like be a teacher in a foreign country or pursue a compelling idea that you have no idea how to pull off. You know deep down inside that this is important and if you let it go you know you will feel empty for not having tried.
This is what some refer to as a “Calling” or in Joseph Campbell’s terms “The Hero’s Journey.” This is a pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives in one sense meaning that it is a deep seated archetypal pattern that repeats itself in many cultures.
The elements of the call are set forth in the diagram above. Basically there is the compelling idea and draw, the fear of the unknown, the willingness to jump into the void, the challenges as you move forward, helpers who show up, some kind of transformational experience and the return with some boon of knowledge and wisdom.
But why do I call this the two edged sword?Because if you hear the call then there is the equally important flip side referred to as “refusal of the call.” Mythology is rife with examples of what happens to those who refuse the call too long or do not take it seriously. According to Campbell refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative-walled in boredom, hard work, disappointments etc. The subject loses the power of significant affirmative action, becomes a victim and his world becomes a wasteland and meaninglessness.
I am writing about this because it has happened to me several times in life and was triggered by the recent blog by life coach Tora Mohr entitled “7 Ways to Discover the calling Oprah Told You To Find.”
In other words if you respond to Oprah’s inducement and search for the call then you must also be willing to answer it.
So in one sense there is a reward for venturing out even if you have no idea how it will all come together, but there is a penalty for refusing the call once you hear it.
Sometimes we receive a number of calls. Not all big, but nevertheless still meaningful and rewarding. For example I knew from the moment I got off the plane in Honolulu, having been sent there by the military that I would move heaven and earth to make that my future home. It was my idea of paradise, one that most people only thought about as that once in a life time vacation spots. I knew that if I could gain a foothold there I would feel eminently successful no matter what I did. I bought a one way ticket after grad school and did exactly that.
I have written a recent book about my own callings and of course one is embedded in the title, “How Frank Lloyd Got Into My Head Under My Skin And Changed The Way I Think About Thinking.” I had a big idea with no real qualifications to consummate, but began the journey.
Perhaps in these times of significant change when all looks uncertain it is precisely the time to discover your calling and go for it. There is magic in the process. It is the kind of decision making that promises to usher in a richer and fuller life.
I would love to hear about your opinions and experiences on this subject.