The Call To Adventure

"The first stage of the mythological journey–which we have designated the "call to adventure"– signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown." –Joseph Campbell


There is a "zone unknown" awaiting every Visionmaker, a wilderness of experience that can only be located through the heart, and where transformation awaits us. Visionmakers see this sacred territory where destiny resides by casting their vision forward, as though it were being carried across the landscape of possibility on the wings of a large, dark bird. 


The call to adventure is always an invitation, never a command. We are free to accept, decline or ignore a rendez-vous with destiny. To answer "yes" to destiny, though, begins the expedition to knowledge which lies beyond convention and certainty. This is a realm where theories, concepts and inherited beliefs are impotent. It is the realm of our original experience.  


Original experience is the raw material of Visionmaking. Such experience is a head-long encounter with life that demands the full engagement of every faculty available to us. In this kind of encounter, we never remain the same. Complete transformation is demanded. Here, we can actually feel destiny brushing us, feel its breath on our neck, and know that there is something at stake.  In this territory, we are fully alive.  Walt Whitman captures the call to adventure in Passage To India:


Sail forth–steer for the deep waters only,

Reckless O soul, exploring I with thee, and thou with me,

For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,

And we risk the ship, ourselves and all.


The experience of being fully alive and fully engaged at the frontiers of our own lives is the journey of meaning. Why else would one seek destiny? Certainly, it is not to remain unchanged, static and unmoved! This is the experience that every Visionmaker's heart cries out for, the adventure into a field of transformative possibilities where life expands the scope of our vision, funds personal power and provides the opportunity to act.


And what of those calls to adventure that we decline or ignore?  They too have their consequences. Joseph Campbell elaborates:


"Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative.  Walled in boredom, hard work, or "culture," the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.  His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life is meaningless...Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death; a labyrinth of Cyclopean walls to hide from him his Minotaur.  All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration."


This is not the destiny of a Visionmaker. To refuse the call, or turn back from such a compelling vision would be to betray everything that we have been born to do. Even if we have failed to respond in the past, every Visionmaker knows that positive change is just a choice away!


© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.

Posted on December 17, 2008 and filed under Uncategorized.