"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.
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?