The Heroic Faith: Can Adventure be a Religion? Guest Post by Drew Jacob
This is a guest post by Drew Jacob, the Rogue Priest.
I was twelve, and I believed in heroes.
I was not a popular kid. I wasn’t very brave. I lost at sports, or just stayed home. I wrote and drew and walked in the woods, alone.
But I read books, and I played games. My house sat in a depressed Wisconsin town, but my mind traveled the world. I crossed the continents, real and imaginary, with small groups of dedicated individuals. They didn’t always get along, but each had a story, a reason to be there. And they had a shared purpose.
Together these misfit bands would save the world. We fought monsters, and that was alright. It was never the combat that won me. It was the idea, the simple belief, that just a handful of people can change the world.
As kids we all believe in heroes. You can’t grow tall without this sacred myth. I just fell in deeper than most. Since I had no real life, no network of friends, these characters took their place. This story became my life.
At twenty I had friends. At twenty-three, responsibilities. A job and a temple filled my life, and I had a purpose in the real world.
But I always believed.
And I couldn’t tell, at first, that no one else did.
Adults don’t believe in heroes: one by one we give it up. World voyages on Greek ships, magic wands and phoenix quills. Fantasy, we say, and it is. But even the heroes we know existed, the ones we said that we would be: banished. Heroes become a ninety-seven-minute, two-hundred-page anodyne consumed on Thursday nights.
An escape, a relief, then back to the real world.
I never gave up that belief in heroes. Not superpowers, but that simple tenet: you can do anything. A small number of souls with a shared purpose can overcome, can overcome, can overcome.
In 2011 I closed the doors of my holy temple. I walked away from my professional job. I took three thousand dollars, a laptop and not much else, and I set out.
Set out, to see the world, my mother.
Set out, thinking I’ll make a difference.
I had no idea what it takes to be heroic. I have never done a heroic thing. So I set a quest. I don’t know if I can complete it; I don’t even know if it’s possible. Maybe it’s too big for me.
I intend to meet the gods.
Are they real? And real or not, do they ever open the door?
I don’t know. I’m traveling 9,000 miles, give or take a grand, powered only by my own muscles. Walking, bicycling and paddling from the Mississippi to the Amazon. Somewhere there, if gods there be, I’ll find them waiting, perhaps.
And if I fail? Ni hannsa, ”It is not difficult.” Travel is my spiritual practice; adventure is my daily creed. For I believe these things change a person in their heart. We each have a purpose, a destiny we make for ourselves: if you don’t know what it is, travel. Travel and you will find it.
That is the Heroic Faith.
It is not a faith of belief, but of action; not of hope, but of doing. My adventure brings me to times of great joy, peaceful refuge and new friends. And it takes me away again. “Love it the first time,” I chant, for heaven may be a dream. What I know is this happened, these precious days existed, and shaped my heart for all my life.
And in the end?
We may have no soul. I give all of me to the world I know. I salute the gods, whether prayers go answered or rebuked. I carry on, I offer myself. When I die, if there’s nothing more, I’ll slip to that black sleep with a smile on my lips, and know I lived my story.
Today we have the earth, and you can change it.
That is my faith.
Drew began his journey July 4. He’s somewhere between Dubuque and New Orleans. You can meet him at RoguePriest.net and follow him as he goes. Travel companions welcome.