The telephone rings obnoxiously pulling me from a writing zone in which every word is flowing brilliantly. “Would someone please get that?” I yell while continuing to write my future Pulitzer winner.
The shrill ring of the phone continues, now grating against my thoughts and tearing holes in my concentration. With an irritated growl I get up from my office chair to get that freaking phone and decide that I need to turn off the ringer when I’m writing.
“Hello?” The sound of my voice might have come out a little harsher than it should.
"This is adventure calling."
“What the . . .”
[And scene . . .]
So it didn’t really happen like that. Me? Writing a Pulitzer? In my dreams! Ha.
The truth was, it was a phone call from my husband. “Guess what,” he’d said. His voice didn’t betray any emotion, like usual. He leaves the dramatics for me.
“What is it?” I asked. Of course, I really was thinking about getting back to my office chair and the blinking cursor of the computer where my work in progress was waiting and for once, actually flowing. I’d finally climbed through the ninth circle of Dante's hell of doubt and writer’s block and was moving forward.
“We have a trip to Greece if we want it.”
Hit the brakes. “What?” I ask. I mean, this is coming from my husband. The guy who doesn’t want to travel outside of the United States. Heck, it's hard enough getting him to leave work for a staycation!
“I earned it through work.”
“If I go, I’m thinking I should take Office Minion number one.” I knew he was joking, trying to irritate me. That’s his thing: See how quickly he can get my temper from 0 to 100. And he always wins it.
“If you take Office Minion #1, you can consider yourself served with divorce papers,” I joke.
He laughs. “Wow. Divorce huh?”
“You’re taking me.” My romantic idealism kicks in.
“You’d want to go? Two weeks in Greece and Italy.”
I hesitate a split-second, consider that this is a once in a life-time opportunity in which I could get my husband out of the country. “Yes!” You see, he’s the realist. I’m a balloon filled with dreams and flopping around in the breezy sky while he holds me tethered to the earth.
So Europe. Greece. Italy. The idea fills me with excitement and inspiration, with the romantic notion of the writer on a journey to create the great novel. Passport photo taken and applied for, grandparents trip planned to stay with the kiddos (furry and otherwise). Plane ticket purchased. Then the worrying starts, the questions that have some time to take hold and puncture little holes in the balloon so it begins to deflate. What if something bad happens? Then grandparents arrive, and holy crap, this trip is really going to happen! What was I thinking?
In Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, this is the the moment when the hero is challenged with The Call to Adventure. This is when the hero's Ordinary World is about to change and there is no going back. Remember: I love my Ordinary World. I love home and the romantic idealism of traveling, or being Indiana Jones sidekick, or solving the mystery of the Mona Lisa that I imagine from my comfortable couch. Now, faced with the reality of leaving my Ordinary World, I’m terrified of how my world is about to change. The tire screeching in my brain is a cacophony and stench of hot rubber on asphalt, and I realize there’s no stopping now because the momentum of this vehicle isn’t changing course. It’s either steer it forward along the road, or roll it into the ditch.
The hero is faced with accepting The Call to Adventure or denying the call. Here’s the thing though, the hero never really has a choice - the call has happened and even if she wants to deny the call, her Ordinary World will never be the same. Think about it - the moment my husband said, “We have the opportunity to go to Europe” and imagine we chose not to go, there would always be the “what if” hanging over us. So the Ordinary World shifts anyway.
But we didn’t say “no, thanks.” We committed to the journey, and so there’s no going back. We’re about to get on an airplane having accepted the Call to Adventure and our Ordinary World will never be the same.