The Call to Adventure

Life is in itself an adventure. 

Within it, you will find all the helpers, shadows and villains of a fairytale. The dark places, and the heavenly ones. Dragons, and fairies and mystical creatures, kings and queens, angels and demons, cowards, and of course, the hero. 

They all live inside you. In your feelings, thoughts, moods and actions. They are all part of your character - conscious and unconscious - shaping you, challenging you, supporting you. Disgusting you and pleasing you. Some of them you love. Some of them you fear. All bring you closer to, or further apart, from your treasure, your hidden potential. 

Myths as Templates for Development

There are various ways in which unconscious content can be made conscious. Exploring mythological symbolism is a lesser known, but effective, way to bring unconscious content into the light of consciousness.

Myths have served various functions in different cultures across time. One of the more common of these functions has been to provide individuals with a template or model to assist them in their psychological maturation and development.

Carl Jung (phycologist) and Joseph Campbell (mythologist) are two of the most prominent explorers of the psychoanalytical and mythological origins of human and social behavior.

Carl Jung formed the concepts of the archetype and the collective unconscious to explain the commonality of experience shared by all people. To Jung, the archetypal hero represents the psyche's quest for individuation, the process that makes each person unique.

Joseph Campbell built on Jung's concept of the collective unconscious to encompass all the world's mythologies. Campbell studied the world's religions, art, and stories, and discovered common threads throughout all, including the hero. Campbell's work highlights mankind's common search, both personally and socially, for meaning and truth throughout the ages. Campbell called it the hero’s journey.

The Hero Myth

In myths following the pattern of the hero’s journey, the hero ventures forth from a familiar world into strange and sometimes threatening lands to find a hidden treasure. The hero’s journey always begins with a “call to adventure”, often personified as an animal the hero encounters, representing our instincts, or gut feelings. 

According to Campbell, this is symbolic of the individual’s departure from their conscious personality into the unexplored lands of their unconscious in search of the unrealized potentials hidden within, their treasure or “ultimate boon”.

“The whole idea is that you’ve got to bring out again that which you went to recover, the unrealized, unutilized potential in yourself. The whole point of this journey is the reintroduction of this potential into the world…It goes without saying, this is very difficult. Bringing the boon back can be even more difficult than going down into your own depths in the first place.” (Pathways to Bliss, Joseph Campbell)

Bringing Forth your Potential

There is always the possibility that nobody will care or pay attention when you bring forth your “ultimate boon”. They might even not like it, because it makes you behave differently to what they are used to. If they do appreciate it, there is also the possibility that the applause will divert you from your authentic path, always seeking more praise rather than following your inner compass.

To follow your mission is to find your own place in the world, where you can nourish your potential and offer your work to others because of the joy of it, not because you care whether you receive applause or rejection. 

How to deal with such a challenge, you might ask. Well, in my view, there is only one way. It is to constantly deal with yourself, accept yourself, love yourself.  Trust your own instincts and voice. 

The call to adventure is the call to live your life in the way that you choose, the way you were meant to. In doing so, you will have found your own unique pathway to bliss, and your life will have followed the thread of the hero’s journey.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell
The Hero's Journey,
Joseph Campbell
Reflections on the Art of Living,
Joseph Campbell
Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Carl Jung