is it scarcity complex, or a call to adventure?



If you tell someone with a bent toward the spiritual and/or self-help that you feel a sense of lack in your life, she might look at you with a faint hint of disapproval. She might tell you that what you put your attention on, grows, and we become what we think about most.

So don’t focus on the lack, she might say. Focus on abundance. Focus on enough. You have everything you need. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. This moment is perfect. You are perfect.

What if that lack isn’t the symptom of a scarcity complex, but something else?

What if it’s your call to adventure? The beginning of your hero’s journey?

What if it’s your way into a richer, deeper, more meaningful life?

According to mythologist Joseph Campbell and depth psychologist Jean Houston, inside all of us is a longing for more. This isn’t the voice of the void but the cry of your soul, driving you to wholeness. click to tweet

Houston explains in this interview that The Call might start off as bland and generic: I want to get married, or, I want a new career. The “usual things”. But at some point there’s what Houston terms a second genesis, when another level of possibility begins to crest and you realize there’s so much more to you than you ever suspected.

That’s when your life’s adventure begins.

And by the way, you are perfect. You are exactly where you are supposed to be – until life keeps whacking you with hints and reminders that it’s time to be on your way to somewhere else. (In storyteller’s parlance, this is known as ‘resisting the call’, and the hero will continue to stagnate, and life will keep poking and frustrating and disrupting her, until she’s willing to leave her ordinary world and strike out for the territories.)

Moving into your yearning is different from trying to fill the void through a hard or soft addiction. The latter leaves you worse off than before, wanting more but requiring ever more to achieve the same effect. What is addiction, in the end, but a spiritual quest pulled inside out?

To move into your yearning is to recognize and honor your needs. It is to move to the other side of lack, where you can start to remember who you are.

Sep 8, 2013

8 comments · Add Yours

I think what you are saying is the difference between seeing where you are and feeling bad, or seeing where you are and feeling excited for what is to come!


That works. :)

One of my favorite expressions: “The past is prologue.”


Here you go again, posting about something that’s been heavy on my mind for a week or so. Physics has always appealed to me more than neuropsychology and held more relevance to the artful living of life. My reading has switched back to physics lately and the subject of thoughts as tangible objects that create reality. This morning I spent a long time in a grove of sweet gum trees thinking about abundance and lack, wants and needs, and the source of that ache so many of us carry inside. Can we erase it by manifesting with our thoughts? No, I don’t think so. And I don’t think scarcity is a hero’s call, not in these times. Scarcity comes from wanting and we’re overwhelmed with false wants. I think we have to first clarify, know, see, and fulfill our needs before addressing our wants. It’s not an easy task. We’re distanced from what we need — basic, animal, survival needs like touch and the smell of great good food we’re about to eat (fresh peaches ripened on the vine, not canned peaches from the pantry), deep eye contact and speechless communication with animals and children conveying safety and the willingness to protect. We wander with out needs unfulfilled because we’re blind to them and smothered in the wants we’re told we want, distorted into needs. If we can slow down and connect with our needs, fulfill them (they’re all around us), we ease the fears and instability. Once that is gone (it takes practice), then the soul-wants start emerging. Then the hero in us rises up. Then we hear the call. The hero of my life is second choice if she isn’t well fed, loved, connected, and standing strong on the pillars of fulfilled needs. Both Campbell and Houston lived and did the body of their work during times when we had no choice but to fulfill our needs of connection and movement and touch and untainted foods. The seerers and sages of our past are the prologue to our lives lived in these times. What will our stories be? Whose needs are so overflowing that they sit quietly with confidence and watch, intuit, understand, and share what they have seen? Campbell spent years in solitude learning, absorbing and thinking, a single dollar on his dresser so he’d know he wouldn’t go hungry. Piaget, whose theories still stand, discovered the stages of childhood development through hours of quietly watching his children. Edison didn’t create electricity, he discovered it through relentless and patient trial and error. Are we losing those people who, as Milton said, also serve who sit and wait?


Great comment. I don’t think scarcity is a hero’s call either; I think the two get confused….

I don’t think we know how to live, as a culture. We don’t know what we really want. There’s a real disconnection from ‘soul’ — that sense of who you truly are as an individual, and how to nurture and cultivate that sense in a way that not only serves you, but also the world — possibly because soul has traditionally been associated with the body, with the ‘underground’, with the feminine (as opposed to ‘spirit’, which is ethereal, collective, impersonal, and masculine?)

We set things up as dualities. Individual vs collective. After an era of focus on the individual, we’re swinging to the other side, the age of collaboration + community. What we need, though, is a better understanding of how these things grow out of each other, interrelate; how we can define the individual in terms that support community, and vice versa….

I am somewhat of an optimist by nature. I don’t think we’re losing those people “who sit + wait”. One way to predict trends is through the rise of countertrends. In other words: in a culture that is ADD, fast fast fast, multi-tasking, superbusy, there will rise — is already rising — a countering force that values thoughtful, mindful, slow, deep.


This is a very wonderful post, Justine. It hits upon stuff I’ve been going through. I for one crave adventure. A life of new experiences and doing fulfilling work.

Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.


I don’t think we’re losing those who sit and wait, either. We have you, don’t we? For every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. I’m confident more will follow your lead. I know I’m tagging along and learning.


Dear Justine, If you’re interested or you have time to talk more about this topic.. I have a perspective with mythology to address your “I don’t think we know how to live, as a culture.” I think that our culture needs mythology, but probably not in the way that
people might think. I say ‘No’ to superstition and ‘Yes’ to repositories of stories as guideposts to help humans in their life journeys. In 2003 I wrote an essay to encapsulate this perspective, but at 4 pages, it’s too long for a blog comment. I just re-read it, and I still like it after 12 years, so someday (hopefully soon) when I get my new site up, I’ll put it there. I can put it in an email message now to you, though, for food for thought. Write me at so I’ll know where to send it. Thank you for this post. Yours in wicked-goddessness, Amara


Duke Leto Atreides said is well: “without change, something sleeps inside us. The sleeper must awaken”.


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