Saying Yes to the Adventure

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“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
Joseph Campbell

Washing Machine

The problem with the word “adventure” is definition.  No one can be certain of the exact description because it depends on the unique characteristics of an individual.  Most like the idea of an adventure, but when the call to the adventure comes, it may slip by unnoticed, or be considered an uninvited guest.    Saying a “hearty yes” is accepting both the good and bad of a journey, exploit or deed.

Joseph Campbell breaks down the Hero’s Journey into three acts with several stages.  Act one begins with the ordinary world, the safe place where we feel comfortable and fully in control of the situation.  We are unaware of what is to come.  Then comes the call, which is a demand for action to counteract a direct threat to ourselves or the well-being of family and friends.  But when we realize the difficulty that lies ahead, we refuse the call, doubting our ability to tackle the task.

I received “my call” the other night when I heard a dreadful clanging coming from my washing machine that resonated through our home.  It must be an anomaly, I reasoned as I added another load to my once-reliable washer.  The washer would not budge.  Herein lies the problem: I do not consider washing clothes by hand an adventure, nor do I think that I have a special talent in this area.   Besides, the idea of being on a Hero’s journey is incompatible within our world of the ordinary.

And then the unexpected happened.  Wringing out towels and feeling the ache in my arms, I came to understand my adventure.  I looked backward. I felt a kinship and respect for my grandmothers and great-grandmothers who washed for large families, hanging out their wash on clotheslines in the heat of summer and the cold of mid-winter.  I felt the deep need of the present.  I was washing my clothes with drinking water that many in our world lacked.   And finally, I felt a responsibility for the future.  Water conservation begins in small ways.

Adventures end with enlightenment, with a new-found understanding.   The repetitive nature of washing gave me a fresh perspective about the hero’s quest.   It is seeing the greater journey in the daily tasks that seem ordinary and inconsequential, even mundane.  There is meaning and consequences in everything we do.

May we always be able to say a “hearty yes.”