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"Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan.It's late, I have to get home. I'm in for it as it is."
~ Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars: Episode IV
Last week's journal presented The Call to Adventure – the first stage in the Hero's Journey.
The next stage comes when the hero thinks twice about taking on the adventure that is beckoning her forward.
She may have known that something needs to change or that she needs to take action, but then reality hits as she realizes that this endeavour may be more than she wants to take on.
That's the point of this stage.
Being a hero is hard, and adventures are often supremely unpleasant.
"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't see what anybody sees in them...Good morning!...we don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water."
~ Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Typically the hero makes excuses: "I'm too busy, I've got obligations." Or she may deride the adventure itself - "That's impossible! It's insane!"
Or she might insist that she's the wrong person for the job.
If I was to say to you, 'I am a stranger traveling from the east, seeking that which was lost,' what would you say?
Then I would reply, 'I am a stranger traveling from the West, and it is I who you seek.'
Then it is true. You have the sacred mark.
[POINTS TO TATTOO]
That? No, that got slapped on me when I was in an orphanage in Cairo.
The mark means you're a protector of man, a warrior for God, a Magi.
Sorry, you've got the wrong guy.
~ The Mummy Returns
Of course, the hero really has to accept the call, or otherwise there will be no story. But we must not underestimate the risks.
The hero is being asked to face the greatest of all fears, the terrible unknown.
The stakes are high, and the hero could lose her fortune, her life, her peace of mind, her one true love.
Is it any wonder, then, that heroes flinch away from the invitation?
Hi, Ripley. This is Lieutenant Gorman of the...
SLAM. Burke buzzes again. Talks to the door...
Ripley we have to talk.
They've lost contact with the colony on Acheron.
The door opens. Ripley considers the ramifications of that. She motions them inside.
INT. RIPLEY'S APARTMENT – A LITTLE LATER
Burke and Gorman are seated, nursing coffee. Ripley paces, very tense.
No. There's no way!
Hear me out...
I was reamed, steamed and dry-cleaned by you guys...
and now you want me to go back out there? Forget it.~ Aliens
This is the moment in the Hero's Journey where two paths present themselves to our Hero. She can answer the Call to Adventure, propelling herself into the unknown, or she can ignore it and continue on the predictable path before her. It's a very important moment of the story, the first real test of our Hero. Which will she choose? Most people who are set in their ways don't just drop everything to embrace the possibilities of the unknown. They're either happy with their status quo, or in denial about the need for adventure. Or they're scared, or tired, or overwhelmed, or too modest about their own capacity for heroism. Perhaps they're just not interested in an adventure, right now. Or they first need another cup of coffee, or to clear their To Do list, or wash their hair.
Would you be interested in fighting Apollo Creed for the heavyweight championship of the world?
~ Rocky III
So what will you do next time adventure comes knocking on your door? You are allowed to refuse. But what will happen to the story, then?
(Tune in to our next enthralling episode - The Helpers Arrive)
Before this ...STAGE 1 OF THE HERO'S JOURNEY - The Call to Adventure
Next up ...STAGE 3 OF THE HERO'S JOURNEY - The Helpers Arrive
STAGE 4 OF THE HERO'S JOURNEY - Crossing the Threshold
STAGE 5 OF THE HERO'S JOURNEY - The Road of Trials
STAGE 6 OF THE HERO'S JOURNEY - The Belly of the Whale
The Hero's Journey ~ The Belly of the Whale
"Now we must brave the long dark of Moria. Let us hope that our passage goes unnoticed." - Gandalf the Grey, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring It is dark. You are alone, abandoned, lost. This feels like the loneliest place in the world. The Belly of the Whale is the point in the story in which the hero reaches her lowest point, or rather her "point of least self". All the things she has known about the world and about herself must be transformed or discarded for her to re-emerge ready for the rest of her journey. The imagery of being "inside" something here is important. The hero appears to those outside the Whale as dead o
The Hero's Journey ~ The Road of Trials
"We'll never survive." "Nonsense, you're only saying that because no one ever has." - Wesley and Buttercup (when preparing to enter the Fire Swamp), "The Princess Bride" This is Stage Five in the Hero's Journey. The earlier stages are here: Stage One – The Call to Adventure Stage Two – Refusal of the Call Stage Three – The Helpers Arrive Stage Four – Crossing the Threshold By the time we reach this stage, the hero has committed to the adventure. She is on the plane; she has accepted the new job; she is pregnant; she has said “Yes” to a big opportunity. (Not all at once, obviously, but you ge
The Hero's Journey: Crossing the Threshold
In previous journal entries, I talked about The Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call and The Helpers Arrive. Next comes the crossing of the threshold - the stage where you take a decisive step that commits you to the adventure - to leaving the ordinary world, the status quo, and venturing into the unknown. "If I take one more step, I'll be the farthest from home that I've ever been." - Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingThis is a defining moment in the life of the hero, often the first active decision of responsibility and independence. This is stepping into a bold new world and is often a very scary act,
The Hero's Journey: The Helpers Arrive
In previous journal entries, I talked about The Call to Adventure, and Refusal of the Call. This - the third - stage of the hero’s journey is where helpers arrive to support the hero in her quest. "It all depends on what you want, you can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin - to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours - closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo." The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien Helpers can take various forms – think about fellow tr
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