Sacrifice is the Shadow in the Calling

The possibility of traveling from France to China wasn’t served to me on a plate. I had to make sacrifices – I had to give up stability, proximity with my friends and family, my job, and the relationship with the woman I loved. None of this was easy and in a way, those sacrifices still affect me today. That’s not to belittle the privileges that have allowed me to even start, such as being born in the western world. My point is that if we want to follow our inner calling, we have to expect resistance. We don’t have to fear sacrifices, but rather – as Thomas Moore puts it, see them as the necessary “Shadow in the Calling”. The problem is, like Nietzsche said, “‘we fear our higher self, because when it speaks, it speaks demandingly”.

In this bicycle trip I often feel like an explorer clearing my way with a machete through a thick uncharted jungle. There’s always a snake lurking somewhere – be it a thief, a storm while sleeping outside, or unknown cultural taboos. But the hardest is to be far away from any kind of home base or support network.

Yet despite all this, I am having the best time of my life. I feel that behind the passing clouds, the stars ars aligned. Because I know that I’m fulfilling my inner calling. The loneliness becomes the blank slate from which I discover the values I want to live for. The daily challenges become the steps of a staircase to inner accomplishment. Put in an other way: how could mankind have become what we are today if we didn’t risk ourselves out of homeland Africa some one million years ago?

I’ve seen so many people in this world not being happy with the life they live. Yet often they had an inner voice telling them what to do. Yep, that one. We all have it. It might be faint or muted, and it’s always demanding. Maybe, If we accept that the essence of that voice is discomfort, we can transform pain into stepping stones.

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