Campbell explains the call to adventure as “the awakening of the self.”
If you are stagnant, you are dying.
What dream have you buried in the bottom of your soul?
What are your body and your moods trying to tell you?
These are the signs that your soul is ready for adventure.
For me, my call for adventure came after a period of restlessness and unease with the “status quo.” Year after year, I put my life on hold. In my life things had not gone as planned. I was trapped in a daily grind, working every weekend and even over my vacations to earn extra money. My only break in my daily routines was my once a year running of the Boston marathon, and as my 50th birthday approached, I had completed seven marathons. After giving up smoking and running my first marathon, I knew that change was natural and absolutely necessary. I was approaching fifty and I could have taken this as a signal to retire as a successful athlete, but I knew I was far from finished. My hard wiring had changed for good. Unease, restlessness, and depression gave me an urgent need to step away from my present life, even if only for a few weeks. I didn’t know it at the time, but this impetus for change would lead me on a journey that would forever change my life.
One of the doctors I worked with told me about Above the Clouds – an adventure travel business that created unique adventures in far away places that very few people ever experienced, but places that the guides at Above the Clouds knew intimately (Nepal, India, Bhutan and Patagonia). They wanted travelers who desired an adventure that was “off-the-beaten-path” and wanted an experience unlike any that tourists have. I found them online and it was like an omen, because at the time, their headquarters turned out to be right in Worcester, not far from where I lived.
I fell in love with the idea of trekking in Nepal. To me it seemed like such a spiritual place and that fascinated me. I decided on their High Solu trek because I didn’t want to encounter many Westerners on the trail.
However, as the time of the trip approached, I experienced a lot of anxiety, having never traveled overseas, and especially never taken a trip alone-especially one of this magnitude. I knew from the past that doubts and fear were the inner obstacles that would destroy my goals if I allowed them. Throughout my planning for this trip, I decided to stay the course no matter how much anxiety I had. It took all my control to stop listening to all the reasons my mind had for why this wasn’t a good idea, but I chose not to listen. Emotional and mental trials, I had found, were as transforming to the soul as physical challenges are to the body.
When I arrived at Logan airport in Boston, I tried to calm myself down by talking softly to myself: “Look at what you have achieved by changing the way you think about new experiences. Feel the excitement, not the fear.” I knew at 50 years old I was crossing a threshold. A world of possibilities waited for me. I was going to the Himalayas and I needed to lose the old baggage. If I kept on listening to the doubts and fear, I knew I may as well just turn around and go back home….and with that I took the deepest breath of my life and sat down in my seat on the plane.
With my first breathtaking view of the size and majesty of the Himalayan mountains, I could feel their vast stillness and quiet. I couldn’t contain my exuberance and began running from window to window to get a better view. A sherpa, a few rows in front of me, told me to look for the plume of smoke coming off a mountain far in the distance, explaining that “the smoke” was the ice and snow being blown off the peak of Everest by hurricane-force winds. Something stirred within me.
We all have an Everest in our lives and I can only hope by sharing my story, it will inspire others on their own journeys of self discovery. Because, as I have found, the greatest adventure of all is the living of one’s life. There is no point nor age that does not suffice as a beginning. The gift of our time here doesn’t come with a lifetime warranty.