When I was young I utterly worshipped Midnight Oil.
They were a highly political, environmentally-conscious Australian band who wrote an 80s hit, Beds Are Burning, but who had done a lot of other records they aren’t as well known for. I learned about them around 1992 from my cousin, bought all their records, and listened to them every day. Even now, I’ve listened to more Midnight Oil songs than to any other band in the world. I was even crazy enough to get send CDs of their concerts from other fans all over the world. This obsession must have lasted 10 years.
Anyway, sometime around 2007, I found out that they had broken up. I remember it really vividly. It was dark and I was sitting in front of my computer screen and I started Googling feverishly, looking for information about what had happened, etc. I learned the whole story and stayed up until 5 in the morning, falling into a kind of depression. My heroes were no longer really there.
Midnight Oil used to shake up their audiences and demand that they pay attention, learn from the past, and make the world a better place. It was an idealistic message that stood with me, but this band was gone now.
That’s when I realized that it was up to me. I had to be my own saviour.
When Joseph Campbell discussed the Hero’s Journey in the book The Hero with 1000 faces, a fundamental building block of the storytelling process, he described a part of it called The Refusal. In this section of the journey, the hero hears the call for him to do a great deed, to go on an epic quest, but he refuses, because he thinks he isn’t worthy or can’t do it.
This is the kind of feeling I had. This is probably the kind of feeling you have to, that it can’t be done– or that if it can, it certainly can’t be done by *you*. In other words, there’s no faith.
Here’s what happens afterwards though. At some point, the hero receives a second call. These calls can be subtle, but he recognizes them. Although it frightens him and there is a serious chance he may perish, he goes forth anyway. He realizes it’s his destiny to take part in the quest. He can’t escape it anymore.
Of course, this is just a story, so it doesn’t always happen that way in real life. You can reject the call, or ignore it, multiple times, even for your whole life, and no Greek deities will come from up on high to demand that you save them from whatever happens to be threatening their ancient world.
But the reason stories like these are so prevalent is because they are universal ways to teach us about life. So when the Hero’s Journey tells us about the call, the refusal, and the eventual acceptance of the quest, it’s telling us that it’s how we, as people, should behave.
We can refuse the call several times. That’s natural, even heroes do it. But we still have a quest to perform, and we know it, and eventually we will need to take responsibility.
There’s probably a few things you are waiting for. Your relationship is getting weird, or work isn’t as challenging as it used to. Maybe you hate where you live, who knows.
Whatever it is, the responsibility for it lies on you. It’s up to you to start the ball rolling. Other people are busy, and they have their own stuff to work on. They won’t do this for you– they won’t save you, because they have their own crosses to bear. They can help, but ultimately, the initiative has to be yours.
No one else can do it but you.ï»¿ï»¿ No one else will save you. It’s your responsibility alone.
Accept your current situation, and move on it.