Long ago during my trekking days, once in scorching summer heat, nearing sundown somewhere in the Western ghats were Nitin and I pushing our limits to reach a certain place for our night halt. Gruelling walk through valleys, mountains and the parched grasslands in that simmering heat without much rest had us starved and dehydrated. All bushed, we were lying on a boulder contemplating a night halt in the village nearby. Trekker’s ego took over and we decided to move further up to stay the night at a shepherd’s who lived on the mountaintop. We made the ascent. Pitch dark by this time, with our dimming torches trying to find our way, we realised we were lost. Our minds numb, unable to think clearly, uncertain about our survival, we were lying in suspended animation.
In the wee hours of night, as we lay motionless under the open sky, I heard a dog bark. One hallucinates before death I concluded. Within moments we were running towards the sound, as Nitin heard it too. A sudden surge of energy filled our bodies. Minutes of random chasing the sound got us in front of a ramshackle hut. This is where the shepherd lived with his family. A nice soul, he shared his food, and gave us shelter. We were saved.
Earlier on the trek, Nitin gave all his cash to me. I kept it safely in a pouch along-with my wallet. But sadly, I lost that pouch. Now we had no cash except for a ten rupee note accidentally left in my pocket. I offered that ten rupee note to the shepherd in gratitude as we got ready to leave the next day. I was shocked out of my wits when he returned the money saying, “I don’t need money to live my life”. Those words pierced my heart. Indeed, it would be a long, strenuous trek to the nearest town to use that money, I thought to myself. Anyway, we completed that trek, got busy with our lives, Nitin went to the US, I had had a great career. Life was great. I was on a high.
Many years later, life and career landscape changed. I was successful but not happy. Friends were left behind, my hobbies lost, some health issues, personal life tragedies. Success at workplace seemed shallow and meaningless. I began questioning many things. Disillusioned with my job, each day was a drag. My freedom got stolen. My life got bad. Sundays were depressing. Mondays were gloomy. I was suffocated, wanted to break free but felt helpless. Wanted to quit but felt scared and insecure. Fear of not having enough money, losing all I had and all sorts of financial worries gripped me. On one hand, I lived in a prison with all the luxuries. On the other, I dreamt freedom but it came with fears and insecurities. I was torn. My mind numb, unable to think clearly I was again lying in suspended animation.
In that moment, came a distinct voice saying “I don’t need money to live my life” and I replied, “likewise”. That was the moment of great power and liberation. I left my job that very day. Not knowing what was I going to do the next day but that didn’t matter. It’s been over ten years now and I couldn’t thank that voice enough. It was that penniless shepherd on that parched hill top who set me free. That voice was a `Supernatural Aid’ while I was heeding the call to adventure.
We all get our calls to adventure. But along comes a gripping fear of the unknown, of failure that dissuade us from our adventure. Mentor is an important archetype in the Hero’s Journey whose characteristic is wisdom and role is to build clarity. Mentor knows when to show up and when to disappear. Many times, mentor is not even a person; it could be a life event, a book or a movie. “Mentor endows the Hero with requisite wisdom and gifts that would take a lifetime to acquire. Knowledge comes from learning and wisdom comes from experience”, suggests Will Craig.
One thing is sure; as your adventure becomes clear, a mentor is sure to appear. What’s been your experience of meeting the mentor?