Hello! As my dear friend Darcy often said, “Happy Sunday!”
My creative energy has been going in one direction for the past few years: completing the creative content for the Global Education Strategy (GES) for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Embracing the power of modern media, the GES is intended to generate the necessary momentum and speed to create MAPS, the world’s largest protected area, and safeguard our planet’s air conditioner, the Arctic sea ice.
In creating and producing multiple live shows, seven albums, fourteen books, apps, anime and more in GES for MAPS, I have had the beautiful opportunity to really explore how stories speak to our souls and inspire us. Why, in a world of smartphones and convenience food, do we resonate with tales of people learning to wield a legendary sword in another galaxy (Star Wars), carrying a ring of immense power to a dangerous mountain (The Lord of the Rings), or stumbling from a closet into a otherworldly forest (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)? Something deeper than escapism is happening to give these stories such power. Their journeys all have something in common with us, something that we can embrace and in which we can find courage: the hero’s journey.
I am a fan of the American mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell, who had a lifelong passion for the cohesive mythological threads that run through disparate human cultures. He popularized the concept of the hero’s journey, the path through adventure, challenges, trials, temptations, atonement and victorious return. Campbell said that we must all undertake a hero’s journey to follow our bliss. I find the hero’s journey a useful analogy for the path to connect with our truest selves.
Fear and doubt can hold us back from the courage to embark on the hero’s journey into the unknown, let go of the familiar and try something new. Certainly that has been the case for me. I make it a daily practice to move beyond limiting beliefs that would have me live other than my joy. I find my meditation and spiritual practices to be super boons in helping me discern between what is a real threat and what is imaginary. So I commit to finding my internal compass through them first thing in the morning, every day to make sure I am living my fullest.
Even when we have stepped forward in a direction that feels on path, we may encounter setbacks. When we face adversity, we need to remain anchored in the truth of our soul’s interconnection with all that is. That is because the goodness of life is beyond the ups and downs, the pain and suffering we create and experience. There is a force beyond it all, that guides us through the messes we create and the hurt we can feel. We can access that force any time, anywhere, if we are willing to open to it. For me, I find it through my meditation and spiritual practices, which help keep me tapped in when goings get rough.
It may be tempting to think that if your life is all fluid, then you are doing well, and if it is challenging, then you are not in alignment. But what if adversity were not a problem or a sign from the universe that you are off path? The challenge of adversity could be an opportunity to face fears and let go of deeper, still untouched resistance. As such, adversity can bring you closer to your soul purpose. This has been true for me as I spearhead the global movement to swiftly realize MAPS for the good of all. Who am I to do this? Who am I not to? Though MAPS defies policies and established practices (no charity has ever written a treaty and sent it to all 193 UN member states to sign, for example), it provides an opportunity for freedom to all people equally. We need more peace in our lives and the world’s largest ocean preserve is not just a dream, but a baseline necessity for us to survive on Earth.
On the hero’s journey, the hero must face his or her shadow to find wholeness. So too, you are tested in the process of becoming your fullest self. You learn through adversity to put the most important things first. It is easy to get caught up in tedium, rather than putting the scary or challenging stuff first. You may tell yourself, “I will get to that later,” in an attempt to evade your fears. But when does later come? How long are you willing to wait? What is the cost of waiting? Convincing yourself that you are growing is sometimes hiding from your highest potential. Instead, choose to live like the hero who stays boldly committed to the goal.
But I will say this. As the inspiring humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma shares so often, to be a hero, we must be a zero. True power comes from our sense of humility. When we are humble, we become receptive to the greatest power of the universe – that of our inherent interconnection. When love and compassion for all inspire our actions, and our work turns to support, inspire and serve others – without any desire for personal gain, then we become heroes. Being a hero is not about medals, accolades and pride, but about being the love that is our true nature.
Following your bliss requires discernment, constant vigilance, keen focus and commitment to honouring the call of your unique inner voice. The universe supports your greatest joy. Be willing to stay focused on that reality as you face the ups and downs of life. Your focus, and your preparedness to meet the unexpected, are part of the hero’s journey.
Don’t let adversity steamroll over you and overwhelm your spirit. See those who are unwilling to be in joy, to live in interconnection, as invested in a state of illusion and suffering. Feel compassion for them. Only when you face your fears will you be free from them. Only when you stop fighting the dark will you no longer be afraid to be the light you are. That is your work and what you can do. Focus on that.
You wobble. You fall. You get up. You start again. You learn to be both humble and powerful, because you are aligned not to your personal will but to your soul, which is connected to the divine source of infinite power.
May you commit today to your own hero’s journey for a life of meaning and joy, where you reach the ultimate treasure: your blissful oneness with all that is.