You are a hero. I am a hero. We are all, every single one of us, on what Joseph Campbell calls “a hero’s journey.” We all have within us a Nelson Mandela or Joan of Arc or Luke Skywalker or Mother Teresa or Harry Potter. Like all of these classic heroes, we are all little sparks of divinity on a mission to step into our true nature and fulfill the Divine assignment our souls were sent here to earth in order to fulfill.
Who Will Save The World?
But if you’re like most of us, you may not realize yet what a hero you really are. In Finding Your Way In A Wild New World, Martha Beck describes us heroes as “wayfinders,” who possess a set of characteristics that distinguishes us. Most of us feel a sense of mission involving a major transformation in human experience, a strong sense that whatever that mission is, it’s getting closer in time, a compulsion to master certain skills in preparation for this half-understood personal mission, high levels of empathy, an urgent desire to lessen the suffering for humans, animals, and plants, and a loneliness stemming from a sense of difference, despite being generally social. According to Martha, other common characteristics that typify us include high levels of creativity, an intense love of animals, a difficult, often abusive or traumatic early life, an intense connection to the natural world, resistance to religion accompanied by a strong sense of the spiritual, high levels of emotional sensitivity accompanied by a predilection for anxiety, addiction, or eating disorders, a sense of connection with particular cultures, languages, or geographic regions, a brain-centered disability like dyslexia, retardation, or autism, a gregarious personality contrasting with the need for periods of solitude, a persistent or recurring physical illness, and a tendency to dream about healing others. Martha calls us superheroes “the Team,” and I can tell already that you are one of us.
The Dysfunction Of The “Ordinary World”
We only discover we are heroes when we get disillusioned enough with the dysfunction of our present circumstances. When we feel sad enough and lost enough and hopeless enough, something deep within us has the opportunity to emerge, something stronger and wiser than we may ever have known existed within us. We all have this heroic spark that never dies, even when we’re in our darkest moments. I call this part of you your “Inner Pilot Light,” which is your inner superhero. This spark within you is fueled by a pressing sense that there is adventure out there, that your life has purpose, that you’re on a quest you may not understand yet, that your small little existence on this very big planet could mean something, that there is more to life than the ordinary, dysfunctional world, and that perhaps all it takes is a cape and a mask and some really cool boots in order to save the world.
The Phone Rings
Right when you might start to question your inner superhero and feel tempted to lose hope that your little blip of existence in this great, big world could really make a world-changing difference, you’re likely to hear the phone ring. It usually rings very softly at first, perhaps so softly that, like your cell phone with the ringer off, you miss it altogether. But when you fail to pick up, the phone is likely to ring louder. Some Divine force turns the ringer on.
When this happens, this is your calling ringing you, just like that, with a loud BRRRRRIIIIIIING that you can’t help noticing. It’s your life’s purpose calling, complete with instructions not just for how you can change the world in your own precious way, but with the Prescription for how you can lead a wholly healthy life that will prepare you to fulfill this calling.
The Refusal Of The Call
Because heroes are inherently curious, you won’t be able to resist picking up the jangling phone, yet when you hear what you’re meant to do on your hero’s journey, if you’re like the rest of us, you’re likely to respond with a rousing, “HELL NO.” What you are being called to do is too scary. The dangers are too risky. The voices of your Gremlins are too loud. Your comfort zone is too secure. It would be so much easier to stay in the ordinary world, even though the ordinary world is so…well, ordinary. Fear wracks you. There are so many really, really good reasons to hang up the phone and refuse the call. Nobody would blame you. You’re only human. It would be natural to turn your back on something so terrifying.
So like all the other heroes who have ever walked a hero’s path, you refuse the call. It’s how we heroes play hard to get. Yet no matter how much you pretend you’re not available for that last minute Friday night date with destiny, I guarantee you that, when it’s your true calling, the call will keep pestering you. You can resist the call, but you don’t get to choose your calling. Your calling chooses you. And if you refuse to follow the instructions you are given- I hate to tell you this, but somebody must- you are certain to suffer.
When You Turn Your Back On Your Calling
When you turn your back on your calling, you won’t necessarily be plagued with snakes or bombs or daggers. Your suffering may not look like Armageddon. It may be much more subtle than that, something so insidious that it may just feel like life, only it’s not the technicolor life you hoped you’d live. Instead of being chased by villains or tormented by torture devices, your suffering may show up as the malaise that is endemic in our society. You may lose your mojo, and you won’t know why. You may feel tired, listless, low on energy, and bankrupt on joy. Your relationships may suffer, your sex life loses its passion, your professional life may unravel, or you may feel the creative frustration of a song within you that is yet unsung.
The Uni-verse will conspire to encourage you to heed the call, even if it means thwacking you upside the head with the proverbial two by four. When you ignore the call, you may get sick. Your relationships may fall apart. You might find yourself in financial ruin. You may experience a loss so painful you’ll think you won’t be able to keep living. But you will. Because you’re on a hero’s journey. And the hero must prevail.
You Finally Say Yes
However your calling shows up, you are likely to be humbled into submission until you finally, reluctantly, answer the call. The call simply won’t go away. You will finally surrender because The Uni-verse won’t give up on you. Never. Not when the stakes are this high. Not when there’s a world to make better because you are here on a mission.
Finally, you either muster up the moxy to rally to the task, picking up the phone with a smile, or you get so worn down by the incessant ringing that you pick up with a sigh and a roll of the eyes. Nobody’s going to give you an A for a cheerful attitude. The mission you’re on is pass/fail. Will you answer the call? Or will you not?
Because you are a hero, you will finally agree to your task. Because you must. And when The Uni-verse says, “I have a Divine assignment for you,” you will finally say, with a humble, trembling voice, “Okay Uni-verse. I’m in.”
Have You Found Your Calling?
Does this sound familiar? Have you picked up the phone and refused the call? Have you finally agreed to your mission? Or are you still waiting for the phone to ring?
The world is in crisis. Global warming is killing our planet. Our health care system, education system, and political systems are dismantling. We are at war with ourselves as a species, not just externally, but internally. The time to save the world is now.
We need you. Are you ready to answer your call?
Picking up the phone,
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself. Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com.