The Hero’s Journey

Beargrease on Gravel

Have you have ever taken part on a journey? Not just a vacation or a short hike, but a real, live journey that takes you out of your comfort zone and tests your limits? These types of journeys or adventures stimulate growth, inside and out and to me that’s what life is all about – growth. I have taken part in a few journeys that tested my limits physically and mentally.

One was a trip to Mexico. I had no plans to go to Mexico and I certainly never in my life planned to go to Mexico with a Christian missionary organization, but the universe had other plans. When we are open and especially willing for change to happen, things will happen. That trip was set in motion some 12 years ago after I sent out a prayer to the universe (I call that power God) to do something with my life because it was lacking meaning – a common theme in my life. The week after that prayer, which was not ritualistic but a real, authentic pleading with God by a nonreligious Jewish man, I got an email from a guy I met in an airport lobby six months before. He wanted to know if I’d be the photographer on a mission trip coming up. I had thrown away his business card soon after he gave it to me as why would I need the digits of a doctor in Ohio? Exactly, there would be no earthly reason. I am a pragmatic guy. I majored in biology in college as I like to study and explain the natural world, but this “coincidence” I could not overlook. I was to be the photographer for a mission trip to Mexico with people I did not know. I would meet up with them in the Houston airport for the first time. That trip was so far out of my comfort zone I have no words to describe. It turned out to be a life changing experience.

Mexican boy with teddy bear

Group Prayer, Mexico

Another challenging journey was the 2010 Dirty Kanza 200. I started out with nervousness radiating through my body and ended up riding through hours of painful muscle cramps and 100+ degree temps to cross the finish line at 1:50 in the morning, one of less than 20% of finishers that day. Even though it was a 200 mile circle which one might not think of as a journey, it was an emotional journey like no other. Seeing what I was capable of was a life changing experience.

My DK200 Finish

Then there was the bikepacking tour through the mountains of central California. I went with three other guys that were much more experienced than me. In fact I had no bikepacking equipment besides my Fargo. I borrowed everything from those guys. That trip was difficult, beautiful and once again life changing. Sharing the experience with other people that became close friends was also a very special life treat that I will never forget.

The California Bikepacking Crew

All three journeys showed me that I can endure more than the world told me I could and that there was more “out there” to life than what I had been living.

Those journeys were mere peaks in my line graph of life. They were shocks to everyday life giving it more richness, clarity, knowledge and purpose than the usual sleep-work cycle. But now I, because of everything going on lately, realize that I am on the greatest journey of all. And the thing is, I have always been on it, I just didn’t realize it. I was too busy looking towards the next big thing, never realizing the deepness of every moment. If only I would have peered past the surface of what I saw and felt. The good news is it’s never too late!

The Mythological Hero

I had an “A-ha” moment reading the book The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. The Power of Myth covers many topics centered around the myths and religions of the world. One thing that stood out to me about the mythological stories of the human race was the idea of the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is something revealed in mythology and religion and is found in bedtime stories and blockbuster movies. It is intertwined with our DNA. It has been in the human psyche forever. It is something I have been enamored with my whole life (I still try to use the force to move things with my mind. (like you never do it.)). I have always had a love for super heroes. I think a hero lies inside all of us. And honestly it’s one of the reasons I love putting on my Lycra cycling gear – I look and feel like I’m a freakin’ super hero.

While sipping my morning coffee with The Power of Myth, I stopped to ponder what I was reading. I didn’t have to think long to see that my life, my journey has been a hero’s journey. And I think many of us, if not all of us are on a hero’s journey of one kind or another. This topic has ignited my imagination and revealed some truth about the meaning and purpose of life.

As I sat and thought of my journey through careers – teaching, graphic design, sales, management, business owner, photographer, chemist and commercial artist to name a few, I was reminded of Odysseus’s quest. His holy grail was getting back home. All of us are searching for a holy grail of some sort in our lives – that one thing.

When I started my quest for the holy grail after college, I wanted to help high school students with life because I had a hard time in high school. But after I learned of the bureaucracy of teaching in the public school system, I left to continue my quest elsewhere. The problem was that instead of bringing back the elixir to my people, as a proper hero would when he returns from his quest, my idea of the holy grail changed drastically. My mind had shifted from service to money. I had a family to take care of after all and my thoughts turned to the external things of life. My thoughts transformed into turning my passion into money. I went from job to job, switching careers a number of times because none of those quests quenched my inner thirst. After owning my own photography studio for six successful years, I wanted to pay off all my debt and get a regular paycheck. I was tired of fighting. And so miraculously, I ended up here, at an energy company as a commercial artist. I found the holy grail! I no longer have any money worries. We can pay all of our bills every month! Woo Hoo!

And yet, I am writing you and I am still thirsty. It’s an inner thirst. Money I have learned, is not my holy grail. It brings no meaning to my life. Don’t get me wrong, having money is way better than not having money, but I simply can’t live my life without meaning. I feel like Odysseus stuck on Ogygia with Calypso’s sweet singing keeping him from returning home. I am not on an island, but rather in a dead end job with golden handcuffs keeping me from moving on with any vigor. I want so badly to do something else, something with meaning but I have run out of ideas. For awhile now I’ve had no idea of where to go and it feels pretty hopeless. I had forgotten who I really was because I was so intensely focused on the external things of life.

Once again I turned to a higher power. I had no protective goddess Athena to get me off the island but all of us have the power of the universe within us. It is who we really are. Once again I was open and willing for change to occur. And it occurred, just not the way I thought it would or should. I ended up in a jail cell staring at the ceiling wondering what had happened to my life. That experience cracked me wide open. That brought me to true surrender. If a person can handle it, surrender will be the best thing that ever has happened to him or her. It is a time to be embraced. It is a time to stop, be still and listen.

I have learned that a miracle is simply a shift in perception. It is a shift from fear to Love. That jail cell was the best damn thing for me – a miracle if you will. Perhaps getting laid off was the best thing for you. Perhaps those aren’t obstacles but opportunities. Things are not good or bad they just are. You give them meaning. You have a choice to see the world as you wish. Being a realist, I know you have to take care of business, but making that shift from fear to Love, releasing past resentments and forgiving everyone and everything will change your perspective and thus change your life.

I don’t want any of you to have to experience deep depression for yourself, but since I decided to keep going, a world of synchronicity has opened up to me. The right books have been there, the right people have been there and things are changing. One thing I have learned so far is that the change has to happen inside first. Once I realized who I was, like you, a divine being connected to the energy of all humanity and the universe itself, a shift inside me occurred.

I can’t tell you where I am headed exactly, but I am getting on my bike and riding there (metaphorically of course). One thing I do know is that my calling is to be of service.

My Fatbike has become my metaphysical transport to new opportunities.

Feed Your Monkey!

If this peaked your interest I suggest the following reads:
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
May Cause Miracles by Gabby Bernstein
Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles by Marianne Williamson with Mastin Kipp – sign up for the daily email, you won’t regret it.


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