Answering the call is hard

"He who would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is." - Meister Eckhart

I unabashedly love Liz Gilbert. She just did a two part interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, and the first part aired last weekend and is now online for all to see. I highly recommend you watch it. (The second part is coming up this weekend.) This first half is focused around the topic of figuring out what your "quest" in life is, why you're here and how to make it happen.

This part really resonated with me:

Oprah: 
Isn't it true though, I knew this for myself, when there came a time for me to leave Baltimore, and everybody around me was saying, "No, there's no way you're gonna succeed." I didn't hear it as much as I felt it - I felt that if I didn't move, from where I was, for whatever I was being called to, here obviously, in Chicago... I felt that if I didn't do it, a part of me would die. I felt that I would just sort of like, not physically die, but that parts of me would sort of shrivel up in some way, and that I would not be emotionally, spiritually, myself. Did you feel that?

Liz: 
(Laughing) Yes!

Oprah: 
You felt that too?

Liz: 
(Laughing) Yes, absolutely! And I had a friend who said to me, "If you stay on this path, you might
actually die. Like, you might get very sick, you might crash your car into a tree, like, you might get so depressed that, you know, you might literally die if you don't change."

Oprah: 
Really... That is, I think, what makes people sick...they just, parts of them just...

Liz: 
You just atrophy.

Oprah: 
Atrophy, yeah.

Liz: 
You die in pieces. And we've all seen people who have sort of shut down in pieces and died. And also that feeling that you kind of don't have a choice, right? I used to have the same thing, when I used to tell people, when I was a teenager, that I was going to be a writer... Nobody ever said, "Oh yeah, that's where the big money is, kid! Follow that! That's an easy path, you'll get there!" No one ever in history said that.

It didn't matter what they said, because I had no choice. I knew, this is what I came here to do. I don't /have to/ succeed. Succeeding means answering the question, following the quest...wherever it ends. The point is, did you try? Did you show up?

Oprah:
Yes, and a part of the call, a part of what you make so clear is that everybody gets called. You can choose to answer it or not, once you do answer it, you're gonna be faced with obstacles and challenges, and people who look like friends that are not.

Liz:
Oh, it's not
easy. I mean, I think what I really try to communicate with people is that we're a little bit delusional in this society, the way we sell changing your life as if it's something fun. What I say, is if you're doing this, if you're going to answer the call, and you're going to transform and you're gonna change...

Oprah:
And really step up to who you're going to be in the world...

Liz:
Get ready, cause...

Oprah:
Get ready!

Liz:
It is
not a day at the beach. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be hurt. Expect to feel lost. Expect to feel despair. Expect to be double guessing yourself at every turn. They don't call it "the road of trials" because it's a joy ride! Joseph Campbell called [this phase of the hero's journey] the road of trials because that's exactly what it is. But every single one of those obstacles, challenges, and temptations that you have to learn to manage will help you gain your talents and powers, and shed your fears, so that when it comes time for the climactic scene in every hero's journey, which is the battle, you're ready. Because every single one of those obstacles prepared you for the battle. Then you lose your fear, and then you become the hero.

I felt that feeling years ago - that if I didn't do what I was being called to do, that part of me would die. But then I didn't do it. Sure, because I was young and felt powerless and had been convinced that what I wanted was wrong.

But I didn't do it. I didn't do everything I could to pursue what I knew was right for me. 

And I do feel like part of me died. And I did get sick. And I did atrophy. I turned into a shell of a person as I withdrew from the world. For 15 years, I didn't try. I didn't show up.

Eventually, about a year and a half ago, I woke back up. I started to hear the call again. But it's not the same - I'm not the same person anymore, as much as I'm trying to find my way back to my "true" self. I don't know if I have it in me to show up, to really show up. I try sometimes, with the energy I have, but I'll admit that I often don't feel seen or heard, and it's much too easy to just retreat back into the shadows. It's safer there. I already have so much to deal with, why invite more challenge on myself?

It's safer to just secretly take some freelance work that I don't give a shit about, so I can try and build my financial stability back up after two and a half expensive years of illness. It's safer to believe that I'm just fooling myself trying to change careers (to art, of all things) when I'm still sick, and now I'm "old" too (at least compared to when I gave up half my life ago), and I'm still really broken in ways that are hard to fix.

It's a real struggle to just show up and try, and I'm still not doing the best job of it if I'm really honest with myself. That's it, no happy anecdotes from me today - watch the video for that:

Update: Part two of the Liz Gilbert interview is up now, it's all about relationships and how to get on your quest. And I didn't realize there'd be a part two, but part two of my own post about answering the call came the very next day...