The Call to Adventure

Today I reread an old email newsletter from an astrologer friend, Joseph Crane. In it, he comments briefly on the differing connotations of the words “journey” and “adventure.” This inspired me to do a bit of reading and review.

How timely. I’ve been saying that I don’t particularly care for the phrase “cancer journey.” It doesn’t bother me if it’s meaningful to others, but it doesn’t seem to describe my experience. 

For me, cancer (more accurately, currently, the side effects of cancer treatment) is not a special journey. At least I want to remind myself that it isn’t. I won’t disagree that it’s a “thing” to contend with, something that has changed my life and that of my family. But in both a broader and a smaller sense, cancer is simply what’s happening. 

This cancer has been a wake-up call, and continues to be, I can say gratefully. But many daily experiences can be wake-up calls, if we’re paying attention and not dismissing them as “negative.”

“Journey” derives from Latin and Old French, originally meaning a day’s travel or a day’s work. It has since taken on a secondary meaning: according to Google, “a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.”

But consider the meaning of “adventure.” The word derives from the Latin, having to do with arriving. The current definition: “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”

This brought me to renew my familiarity with The Hero’s Journey. One of the best resources discussing the universality of the hero’s journey in myth, religion, and fairy tales is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

For now I’ll keep this brief. Here’s a sentence by Campbell that made me think of cancer as the herald of adventure:

The herald or announcer of the adventure is often dark, loathly, or terrifying, judged evil by the world; yet if one could follow, the way would be opened through the walls of day into the dark where the jewels glow.


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