Leaving the ordinary world to find yourself + your purpose

Leaving the ordinary world to find yourself + your purpose

“Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous. I want to be a writer who reminds others that these moments exist.” ~ Anais Nin

Precisely, whose life are you living? Is it yours, or your father’s? Or your coworker’s? Or your mother’s sister’s bestfriend’s daughter’s?

Are you swimming your own race, or simply steeping in a murky pit of other people’s dreams. Is this really the way you want to live your life, or are you just passing time?

Your hero’s journey

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
― Nora Ephron

In his famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes what he calls the monomyth. According to Campbell, every great mythical hero embark’s on a journey that follows this pattern:

1. The hero is living in the ordinary world.

2. He receives a call to adventure.

3. He refuses the call.

4. Something happens (usually some sort of catastrophe) that forces him to leave the life he knows and embark on a great adventure where “fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

The interesting thing is that the hero’s journey can be applied to real life. Many of us get stuck living in the ordinary world, but if you think about it, you’ve probably received your own subtle (or not so subtle) call to adventure.

Did you listen?

Your call to adventure

“Perhaps the only difference between me and other people is that I’ve always demanded more from the sunset. More spectacular colors when the sun hit the horizon. That’s perhaps my only sin.”
~ Lars Von Trier

One of the most profound ways that we sabotage ourselves in this life is by ignoring our inner call to adventure. Let’s be clear. The call might feel like some grand epiphany. Or it might feel like a gentle nudge. It could be a mystical whispering that invites you to sell everything you own and find your destiny on the other side of the ocean. Or it could be a gut feeling that there is more to life than what you’re presently experiencing.

Basically, if you’ve ever wanted more than the life you know, you’ve heard the hero’s call to adventure. And, like the mythical heroes described by Campbell, you probably refused it.

Here’s why:

The ordinary world is safe

I recently found the following quote in an article on Justine Musk’s blog for badass creatives:

When we consider that each of us has only one life to live, isn’t it rather tragic to find men and women, with brains capable of comprehending the stars and the planets, talking about the weather; men and women, with hands capable of creating works of art, using those hands only for routine tasks; men and women, capable of independent thought, using their minds as a bowling-alley for popular ideas; men and women, capable of greatness, wallowing in mediocrity; men and women, capable of self-expression, slowly dying a mental death while they babble the confused monotone of the mob?

For you, life can be a succession of glorious adventures. Or it can be a monotonous bore. Take your choice! ~Neil Gaiman

Powerful words. The person that Gaiman is addressing is a young girl who is grappling with whether to follow her parent’s wishes and pursue a safe, stable career or fulfill her dream of becoming an artist. Her parents want her to choose security over fulfillment. They want her to ignore the call.

Like this young girl’s parents, there are many people out there who will tell us to stay where we are. They serve as anchors, chaining us to the ordinary world. After all, the ordinary world is safe, expected, easy, and socially acceptable.

But our dreams and our life’s purpose lie in the vast and daunting territory of the unknown.

The call doesn’t relent

I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.
~ Anaïs Nin

Even though we wish for something more, many of us don’t have the guts to attain it.

We deny. We ignore. We let our desires go up in smoke without ever striking a match. Ultimately, we refuse the invitation to our own destiny in an effort to preserve the safe life that we know.

The problem is that the call does not relent. When we ignore it, it gets louder and more obnoxious. Real life manifestations of this include:

-Feeling drained and exhausted by the monotony of your everyday life.

-Going from one job to the next, never able to commit to anything.

-The constant nagging feeling that you are not living to your full potential. You sense that you have more to offer, but don’t know how to dismount from the hamster wheel that is your daily existence.

-Unexpected loss: loss of a loved one, job loss, loss of possessions, loss of love. When these things happen, it is the equivalent of the universe putting a megaphone against your ear, and saying, “GET OFF THE HAMSTER WHEEL. GET OVER YOUR FEAR. AND LIVE YOUR DESTINY!”

-You hit rock bottom. This eliminates several options that might have been keeping you from your true purpose. Now you are left with only two options: start climbing or die. This is your chance to build your best life from the ground up.

Get over your fear, and listen to the call

Don’t let the opinions of others tether you to a life you don’t want.

Release yourself into the vast unknown and discover the life that’s been waiting for you on the other side of fear.

Be the hero of your own story.

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