Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. Garth Brooks
After I wrote about American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle, my friend Vanessa posed the question: “What about Ashanti Johnson – she wanted to be the American Idol so badly. What happens when you dare to dream, and your dream is dashed?”
Vanessa’s question gave me pause, but now I have an answer.
Let’s take another look at the Hero’s Journey. The Call to Adventure is a crisis of any kind which the hero can choose to run from or face; the overarching purpose of the hero’s journey is to be a different, better person at the conclusion of the experience.
Is it possible that for Ashanti her failure to win on American Idol, the “no,” is her Call to Adventure, a crisis that she now gets to face or run from?
Or is this part of her Road of Trials, a succession of experiences which, if we survive, amplifies our consciousness?
Having had the experience of wanting something and not getting it, if faced well, will it prepare Ashanti for an unexpected, but better-for-her boon?
Let me share.
My senior year in college, I decided that I wanted to be a flight attendant. I distinctly remember sitting in my musicology class sharing with my classmates that the very next day I would be flying to Dallas for an interview. I even remember what I wore – a lime green suit. I was educated, spoke Spanish, interviewed well. I not only didn't get hired, I didn't even get a call back. I was really and truly disappointed. So disappointed. How could things have happened this way? I was sure that this career path was my Call to Adventure.
Nearly twenty years later, there are a million reasons to be grateful for that “no” answer. Whether it was my Call to Adventure, along my Road of Trials or a little of both, in responding to the call and facing the trial, I had to look for other career opportunities. Which eventually led to a career on Wall Street, and the unexpected opportunity to discover more of who I am.
In reading Anna Kerr’s blog about Jennifer Hudson, I wonder if Jennifer Hudson has had similar feelings to mine. She wanted to be the next American Idol, but in a surprise turn of events she placed sixth in 2005. After her “no,” she auditioned for and won an amazing role in the film Dreamgirls, and has been nominated for an Academy Award. Two years later, she's probably ok, even happy, that she didn't win American Idol.
And so while we may sometimes dream of being this or that, of flying to Manhattan or Mongolia, often there are much grander plans afoot, journeys that will ultimately be much better for us – liking flying to the moon.
Can you think of something that you really wanted and didn't get?
More importantly, in what way was your “no” a Call to Adventure or along your Road of Trials?
What was the eventual unexpected boon?