Trials to Make Sure You Undertake on your Hero's Journey
Whether you know it or not, right now, at this very moment, we're all on a hero's journey.
This is every movie you've ever seen. YES EVEN TWILIGHT.
Since we all want to be special — I know I want to be special — being on the same hero's journey as every hero from every story confirms we are. But it can be incredibly complicated to know when you're hitting the trials that define a hero's journey. Let's dive into this unfamiliar situation together — here now are the steps to take note of as you embark on a grand adventure.
Answer the call
The hero is often presented with a choice — do you want to go on an adventure or do you want to stay in the world you know? The Matrix's Neo had a clear choice between a red and blue pill. You might have to choose between walking to McDonald's or staying home to order pizza. Choose adventure! Which I guess means choose McDonald's.
Comedic yet tangible threat
When we're jut getting our feet wet on this adventure, it's a good idea to have a concrete example of the danger the hero will be facing, but presenting it in a lighthearted way. For instance, Star Wars featured an enjoyable little detour into the garbage disposal. In real life, you'll probably get into a fist-fight with an unarmed homeless man. Just some good, harmless fun.
In the beginning of the second act, it looks as though the hero is going to be able to waltz to victory. Harry Potter defeated Quirrell, killed a Basilisk, and even finds a new pseudo-parent in Sirius Black. In real life, maybe you graduate from college.
But don't get too cocky — Voldemort's about to rise and student loans are coming due.
Get what you wanted
Sometimes, when you go on a journey and discover something, it isn't what you were hoping for. For instance, right now you might be realizing that the heroes you're basing your current, real-life journey on were really fighting for their lives. Are you just pretending your obstacles are important? I mean, you don't have any dark wizards to fight. You have no oppressive computer system from which to break free. There's not even a Galactic Empire for you to bring down, unless you count whatever we were all Occupying Wall Street against. Which I don't.
Guys, I don't think we're heroes.
Pay a heavy price
You see, heroes always have to go through a dark night of the soul in order to change. But in movies, heroes have something worth being heartbroken over. Luke lost Obi-Wan, Harry lost Dumbledore, and even Batman lost Harvey Dent and therefore the soul of Gotham. I don't have anything special like that to lose. Everything in my life is mundane. In fact, our whole species is mundane — we're just sacks of meat and chemicals and when we die we won't be remembered.
Return to the familiar situation
Sorry for wasting your time with this. Sometimes, the hero is just beaten and he has to quit. Turns out, we aren't special after all. Although ... it was fun talking about The Matrix and Star Wars and Batman and Harry Potter. Sometimes I forget how much I love stories.
I guess it can be hard to love something. There's always a promise of pain that comes along with love — dogs die, friends move away, and parents divorce. Even loving stories can remind us of how dull our real lives can be.
But accepting that potential for sadness and deciding to love, with our whole hearts, in spite of it? That is what makes us brave. And that means we're special.
And that means we're heroes.
How did you change on your hero's journey? Let me know on twitter @mikeyfromsu or in the comments below!