storm cloudsI got startled by the root of ex-plore: to wail or cry out. It morphed from a pain-reaction into a call to adventure, in the Joseph Campbell sense of the hero’s journey, the storyteller’s “inciting incident.” This is what launches the stories of life.

It’s said that nobody moves unless propelled by hope of avoiding pain and/or achieving pleasure – physical, emotional, or mental. So I thought a new depth in exploration might enhance some readers’ experience of it, in feeling it inside and in watching others.

At one end of this spectrum, there’s the pleasurable thrill of discovery – witnessing, as a physicist friend used to say, a phenomenon or place “where no human eye has ever set foot.” At the other end, there’s exploration to find a new roof over one’s head, when the old roof has been lost to fire, flood, relationship, or economics. In the middle are explorations for solutions to trials and tribulations of all sorts – which normally don’t feel like calls to adventure, but can, if the idea of responding to a wail really sinks into the attitude and spawns tenderness for the pain and excitement about the search, maybe into a realization of the universality of these experiences. Also in the middle: is curiosity an impetus arising from painful maybe dangerous dissatisfaction in not knowing, and/or anticipated pleasure and maybe pride or advantage in being in-the-know?

Suddenly the array of the world fans out. Comfortable old solutions have cracked apart (the crack in everything – the beautiful Nature version). Ignorance or helplessness has been revealed. Novel alternatives need to be considered, maybe experimented with. This might be a good time, panic-control-wise, to remember T. S. Eliot’s Little Gidding:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we began

And know the place for the first time.

When I first wrote that out, I was plagued by Dorothy’s closure in The Wizard of Oz movie: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

Since I’d never felt I fully understood that, and Wizard was such a magnetic call to adventure in my formative psyche, I looked it up and found some surprising info in a scholarly article about the quote. By its runic self, it might dovetail with my point here: the core key thing is to find one’s center within the whirlwind, be the eye of the storm, in every sense. The center might be hard to feel or know if the surrounding distractions of the world always remain the same. Going exploring (per Eliot) breaks apart those old structures and lets in fresh air, fresh light, illuminating even the oldest places. Even Oz author Baum’s books were free of the box-office version and emphasized the flourishing made possible by living beyond one’s physical origins.

So I hope anybody reading this who senses they’re in a desperate search for something can benefit by shifting vibrational gears into a feeling of benign exploration, a call to adventure – remembering that the steady perpetual home is in the heart, which will be lit up, better known, and centered in a deeper place during the whirlwinds of change.

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