By Gary Z McGee, The Mind Unleashed
“There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!” ~Nietzsche
Do you ever feel frustrated with who you are? Do you ever feel restless? Like you’re not living your best life? Like you’re severed from it? I’m not talking about hating your job, or wishing you had more money, or why you can’t leave the dead weight of your significant other behind. I mean do you ever feel frustrated with yourself, with who you are at the core of yourself?
Do you ever feel manufactured? Like the culture has molded you into a thing that you can’t quite shake? Like your mind has been hijacked by a billion status quo anxieties? Like your soul has been put on layaway for some other life?
If so, it’s time to take your own hero’s journey. It’s time to take a leap of courage. It’s time for self-inflicted adventure. It’s time to be less egocentric and more soul-centric. It’s time to settle the score between the one you feel burning deep inside you and the one society has conditioned you to be.
These feelings are the whispers of a wake-up call. They are the premonitions of a call to adventure. They are your intuition attempting to ignite a fire under your ass. They are the foreshadowing of your shadow’s attempt to reconcile itself with the whole of you. As Rumi said: “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
Somewhere within the silence, between the clunking clatter of society and the cheeky chatter in your head, is a voice full of the wisdom of what you love, of what makes you tick, of what draws you upward, of what makes you uniquely “you.” Heed that voice. Feel it in your bones. Let its thunder rise from root to crown. Then get out there and do something about it.
Stop making things easy for yourself:
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” ~Rumi
Security is overrated. So are reputations and comfort, for that matter. There’s a wealth of wisdom in insecurity. Alan Watts wrote an entire book about it (The Wisdom of Insecurity). Amazing read!
When I say Fuck security, I don’t mean jump off a cliff or pet scorpions. I don’t mean haphazard fuckery. I mean get out from under the security blanket of the mollycoddling culture, of your pampered domesticity, of your spoiled-rotten creature comforts, of the overprotective and oppressive society that breathes down your neck and kisses you with lies when all you want is to be slapped by the truth. I mean go have an adventure. As Nietzsche profoundly stated, “Any human being who does not wish to be part of the masses need only stop making things easy for himself.”
Embracing difficulty is essential for living a fulfilling life. Taking the hero’s journey is the epitome of embracing difficulty. And it will be different for everyone. No two people are alike. Similarly, no two hero’s journeys are alike. You are a devastatingly unique individual. There has never been another like you and there never will. Why give in to the homogenization of your soul? Why kowtow to a killjoy culture? Choose to “know thyself” instead. Choose a life well-lived. Choose to be the hero of your life’s story. Choose adventure.
Choosing adventure over comfort is grabbing the bull by the horns and daring to guide it in the direction you want, even at the risk of being dragged or tossed or even trampled. The “bull” represents what you love. It’s your deepest connection to this life. It’s the thing that moves your soul, that stirs your spirit, that grabs you by the heart even as you attempt to grab it by the horns. So what if it tosses you? So what if you get trampled? So what if you get lost in the labyrinth? You are in love!
Abandon the chains of opinion and fear:
“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” ~Camus
Don the compass of self-expression and courage instead. Dare to challenge the gatekeepers. Whoever or whatever they are. Ride up to the edge of your comfort zone, with your courage in full flutter, and challenge the gods. Stretch yourself —mind, body, and soul. Transform your secure boundaries into an adventurous horizon. Only you can.
Forget about the haters. Forget about the fearful many who quibble and shudder at the immensity of life, their teeth chattering as they urge you to stay. They may love you, but their fear blinds them, and it will blind you too if you let it. Don’t let it. Absorb their love. Hug them and honor them. But deflect their fear with the shield of your courage and go about discovering and becoming the best version of yourself deep in the throes of your own hero’s journey.
Don’t worry if you can or cannot handle the blinding light outside the Cave. Don’t worry if you can or cannot withstand the Desert of the Real outside the Matrix. Don’t worry if you might die. The only way you know for sure is to give it a shot. Choose the red pill. Take a leap of courage into the unknown. Throw off the weight of society. Throw off the too-heavy comfort. Stop clinging to the safety of the shore. There’s adventure to be had. As Leonard Cohen said, “If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.”
The hero’s journey beckons. There’s the experience of getting to know your most authentic self. It won’t be easy. It will hurt like hell. It will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Many trials and tribulations await you on the crooked path of the hero’s journey. There’s the annihilation of your former self inside the cocoon. There’s ego death. There’s the bleeding out of your sacred wounds. There’s crossroads that will tear you in half. There’s buckling thresholds and sinister abysses. There’s the dark night of the soul just waiting to destroy what’s left of your innocence. But in the end, it will all be worth it.
You’ll have discovered a “secret elixir” that you can re-gift to the “tribe.” Sure, you probably had to count coup on the gods and steal it from them while they slept, but you earned that shit. You’ll have your integrated shadow to pal around with. You’ll have all the demons-turned-diamonds filling up your satchel, which is worth more than money can buy. You’ll have wisdom radiating from the scars left behind by your sacred wounds. You’ll have discovered that the journey is the thing. More importantly, you’ll have the polished pearl of your most authentic self to marvel over.
Sharpness does not just come to a knife. The knife must be tested. It must be sharpened. So too is it with the Self. Taking the hero’s journey is daring to take the grit of your current self and test it against the rub of the universe. It’s daring to take the coal of your current self and test it against the pressure of a challenging cosmos. If you survive, then you’ll have become a pearl because of the rub. You’ll have become a diamond because of the pressure. You’ll have become sharp from the sharpening. But without the rub, the pressure and the sharpening, you’d only have grit, coal and dullness.
If you don’t survive? Well, that’s that. Death is always a possibility. But as the stoic Seneca said, “It matters how well you lived, not how long. And often the “well” lies in not living long.” So be it.
In closing, I’ll end with a quote by Mark Twain: “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” I dare you to live fully.
Featured image: Samurai art.