The Call to Adventure

Ile400I tend to see life as a Hero’s Journey. For many years I taught a class on Myths, Dreams and Symbols at Sonoma State University, using  texts by Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. Over time, it has become second nature for me to look at life symbolically, and my weight loss and quest for vitality has been a Hero’s Journey of epic proportions. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, not because of the dieting, but because of the inner work I have done to support it. I have had to become a new person, not only in my approach to food and exercise, but in how I think of myself and how I relate to the world.

This pilgrimage is a hero’s journey within a Hero’s Journey, a fractal. To not respond to this call to adventure when it stirred my soul would be to invite stagnation into my life. To accept it is to risk failure as much as to invite success. One of the hard truths I have had to face this year is my own stubborn perfectionism: I don’t want to try something  unless I have some guarantee of success. Shedding weight has taken away my main excuse for saying no to adventures, my main tool for buffering myself from failure and the world. I wore the truth of my fear rather than speaking it.

The truth is that I may not succeed in walking all the way to Chartres. The walk may prove to be too much for me… and all of you will know about it because I’ve finally chosen to break my silence and announce it from the rooftops of Blogland. And therein lies my success.

In my quest for vitality, I’ve had to come face to face with the demons of an aging (and sagging) body. I’ve had to learn for myself that vitality does not necessarily mean trying to look like a young supermodel, nor does it mean accepting every challenge on offer. It means honoring one’s hard-earned battle scars and accepting some limitation with grace.

I love shopping for adventure clothes, love the gear, love the planning! I will always be a curvy woman, will never, ever have the trim stick figure I long for… but I now fit nicely into medium-sized clothes, which delights me no end. I love that I can finally wear zip-off trousers! I will confess to having spent many happy hours shopping for clothes and  trekking poles and rucksacks over this past month. But not shoes; no fancy new high-tech trail shoes for me.

I have a serious problem with my right foot. It’s one of those hard-to-explain problems that seems to defy definition and diagnosis, which persists despite having  had a toe-joint replacement in an attempt to address the swelling and pain. This foot worries me as it will no doubt trouble me on our walk. I have tried on literally dozens of boots and shoes, but in the end I will be wearing the running shoes I bought in California last spring. The enthusiastic and knowledgable saleswoman, Deborah,  spent over 2 hours with me, evaluating my feet, watching me walk and run, finally suggesting I think of my new shoes not in terms of any specific activity but simply as Going Forward shoes. I like that! I am honoring my body’s limitations by wearing carefully chosen shoes and using trekking poles for stability, but I am still managing to answer my call to adventure with a resounding YES, balancing my sense of adventure with a dose of common sense.


4 Replies to “The Call to Adventure”

  1. Hi if youstill have the energy, try looking at the boy/men’s department for hiking shoes. I’ve never done it, but a woman told me once that those shoes are perfectly made, just a tat little broader at the front.

    And for the rest:
    Go Girl (s) Go!!!!!!!!!!!

    Lots of love,


  2. You’ve reminded me of another great walker! George Fox walked great distances on his own quest which led to the founding of Quakerism in the 17th century. This quote is a favourite amongst British Quakers:

    ‘Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone’.

    So I’m sending this with love, as a thought you might like to share and pack in the invisible rucksack (the one that carries all the inspiration, encouragement and everything intangible needed to sustain heroes!)


  3. Dear Kimberly and Lisa, Blessings on your huge acventure of vitality! In solidarity with you, we turned our back yard into a camp ground, pitched 3 tents, had a camp fire, had 10 participating, either as campers, eaters, bikers or swimmers including Linda, Jill U and Susan J. It was veerryyy cooold… so cold in the water (typical MN summer) we imagined we were swimming the English channel in December (without being greased or in a wet suit) …

    Joan M, Marian L, Pat O, Cathy S biked for about 25 miles. (They called us to come get them on Harriet Island!)

    We were so inspired by your pilgrimage, we did our own pilgrimages as we were able and moved to do. We are soon ready to head out to our tents (the temp is around 44 degrees! Our job will be to stay warm and use our energy to send our remaining energy to you as you walk your pilgrimage. We prayed for you last night around the campfire.
    Happy full moon! We will look at it with you when you are in Chartre. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us! Love, PML

  4. Even now, 5 years later, I am stirred to say HURRAH! for your courage and newfound vitality and “embody’edness”–whatever you do on the walk, however far you go, you will have achieved your inspiration.

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