This posting is part of a series on my book Sifting. If you have not read the previous postings, please visit the menu above (click on Sifting) for a chronological listing of any previous chapters. Thanks!
Chapter 11: Heroes and Heralds
Bob: Sift, can you feel the heat from the fire?
Sift: Yes, Bob, I can feel anything you feel.
Bob: It’s not colder out there wherever you are?
Sift: I am not out there, Bob, I am inside you.
Bob: Oh, yeah, I forgot. Sift, this is a lot of information to absorb. Can I ask you some questions to clarify some of the things we have talked about?
Bob: Tell me a little about the hero’s journey. Who are you talking about when you use the word hero?
Sift: You are the hero we are talking about now.
Bob: Me? How can I be a hero? I haven’t done anything heroic.
Sift: Everyone is the hero of his or her own journey, and we are talking about your journey. Remember, this conversation was initiated by your question about the purpose of your life.
Bob: So everyone is the hero of his or her own life?
Sift: Everyone has the potential to be the hero of his or her own life. Another way to describe life is to call it an adventure or a journey. I didn’t use the term hero before, but as we discussed, you are most hero-like when you answer the call to your unique adventure and pursue the journey that aligns your life activities with that particular adventure. We also previously discussed that people are designed to be meaning-seeking creatures. Personal experiences give meaning to life. Therefore, people on a hero’s journey seek experiences that give their lives the most meaning. In any particular adventure, the hero is the person who is most active in the adventure, learns the most, and changes and grows the most. The journey is always seen through the eyes of the hero.
Bob: So, the hero could only be me if we are talking about my life, right?
Bob: I never really thought of myself as a hero.
Sift: Right now, you are not a hero.
Bob: What? It’s my life! Who else could be the hero of my life?
Sift: You must be on the journey – on the path. You must either know or genuinely be working toward discovering your unique call to adventure.
Bob: So who calls me? How do I find out about my call to adventure?
Sift: The hero is not the only participant in the hero’s journey. There are other archetypes you will encounter. For example, the herald is the archetype that typically communicates the call to adventure by issuing challenges or announcing the coming of a significant change.
Bob: What’s an archetype?
Sift: Archetypes are symbolic forms, or forces, that either assist you on your hero’s journey or redirect you, block you, or somehow test your resolve. Archetypes can be people, but they do not have to be people. In your case, the herald has shown up in your life for years in various forms. For example, your herald archetype has shown up as restlessness and various related forms of fear, anger, sadness, or even curiosity. Most recently, your herald morphed into the human form of a Mr. Dawson.
Bob: Ohhh! Ohhh! I get it now! So Mr. Dawson was my herald? The call from him was my call to adventure. It was an announcement that it was time for me to move on. Duhhh! The puzzle pieces are falling into place. Wow, this isn’t just abstract stuff; it’s reality. I’ve been ignoring other versions of the call to adventure for years, and the universe upped the ante on me! This is an example of the “disintegrating or dissolving under unusual circumstances” you mentioned earlier?
Sift: Yes, and that is not uncommon. It happens to most people. They ignore their heralds. Especially people who are very busy and easily get caught up in some of the illusions that society presents to them as important.
Bob: What are the consequences of missing all those signals?
Sift: In terms of the hero’s journey, missing or ignoring signals is referred to as the refusal of the call. That simply means that you were called to participate in a particular journey in life, and you made the choice to participate in other activities that are not in alignment with your calling. In terms of the consequences, they are fairly straightforward and predictable. Little misalignments lead to little struggles; significant misalignments lead to significant struggles. Short-term misalignments lead to short-term struggles; long-term misalignments lead to long-term struggles.
Bob: Most people do not know it, but I’ve been struggling for a long time. So, these heralds have been trying to contact me for a long time, right?
Bob: So anything can be a herald – thoughts, experiences, sayings, people, or feelings?
Bob: Ah – some of the pieces of the puzzle are definitely falling in place for me. So struggles, fear, sadness, anger, and other such experiences, are indicators that it is time for a change – a new adventure? That’s what you were talking about earlier.
Sift: Yes, or it could also mean it is time for some sort of adjustment to your current adventure. The magnitude of the adjustment required, or change necessary, is usually in direct proportion to the frequency, intensity, and duration of your struggles. And when the struggles begin to negatively impact your life in a significant way, it is usually time for a significant adjustment. Once again, short-term, low-intensity struggles only require minor adjustments. Patterns of the struggles and emotions are more important than isolated events.
Bob: Tell me again how can you tell if you are on the right path and going in the right direction?
Sift: Remember, the frequency, intensity, and duration of emotions related to joyful experiences are indicators that you are on the right path going in the right direction. Overall, you feel a sense of well-being. You also feel grounded, centered, energized, and that you are fully engaged and joyfully participating in life.
Bob: Nobody else knows it, but I haven’t felt that way in quite a while. So what happens if you keep on refusing the call to a new adventure?
Sift: The consequences are very predictable. If you consistently refuse your call to adventure, one or both of the following things will typically happen: One, life dries up. Things in your life that were formerly important begin to lose their meaning and no longer hold your interest. Boredom, restlessness, procrastination, and similar feelings begin showing up and they remain present for longer periods of time. Some people try to medicate these feelings with food, alcohol, drugs, spending, accumulation of unneeded possessions, and other forms of excessive or self-defeating behavior. Sometimes, Mother Nature sends messages that it is time for a change in the form of headaches, insomnia, stomach problems, anxiety, heart problems, other illnesses, etc. Two, the universe, or some mysterious force of the universe that you might now think of as an archetype, will, as you said, “up the ante” and disrupt your current life path. In other words, you get some sort of physical or symbolic kick in the seat of the pants that is designed to kick-start your true adventure – to get you back on the right path.
Bob: That’s why instead of getting promoted to head up the global project, I got fired, isn’t it?
Bob: All that stuff about shutting down the U.S. operations because they needed to allocate capital resources to the emerging markets in China was a way of upping the ante for me, wasn’t it?
Sift: Yes. That particular event will serve as a call to adventure and opportunity for some, and the response to the ongoing refusal of the call for others. That’s the way the world works.
Bob: It looks as if the global company I worked for is no longer a part of my adventure, right?
Sift: Yes, it looks that way.
Bob: I need to think about all of this for a minute.
Sift: I understand. Take your time.
End Chapter 11
Main takeaway: Pay attention to signs that you are being called to a new adventure.
- Why should you spend more time looking inside yourself for answers than looking outside?
- What experiences give your life the most meaning?
- With experiences, events, or feelings have served (or tried to serve) as heralds for you?
- What are the consequences of missing or ignoring your true calling?
The entire book will eventually be posted on this blog. However, if you want a copy for yourself, or as a gift for a friend, you can find it at this link: Sifting