In the hero’s journey, the classic first step a hero takes is to refuse to go. Seriously why would you leave the comfort of the usual? You know what to do, you know who’ll be there, you know how to get around. There’s a lot to be said for predictability and ease.
Shifting from the Ordinary World to the Unknown World is a major hairball. It’s like moving to a foreign country. Will you be able to speak the language? Make friends? Drive on the correct side of the road? Since we can’t know the answers to these questions, why go?
At the beginning of Star Wars, when Obi Wan suggests he join the rebellion, Luke Skywalker says, “I’m busy back at the farm.” Only when he goes home, it’s a fiery ruin and his loved ones are dead. He’s forced onto the heroic path.
Similarly, Katniss, the heroine in The Hunger Games doesn’t want to fight anyone. But, to save her sister, she volunteers to go to the Capital—which sets off the trajectory of her future.
The reluctant hero’s storyline makes me wonder about the question of choice. Is it more heroic to be pushed into an adventure or to actively seek it out? I’d like a little credit for being consciously brave—it must mean something to know it’s going to be hard and to do it anyway!
But the doubts can needle you. If you’re not chosen are you fighting a battle you can’t win? If you were meant to do this creativity thing, wouldn’t it be easier?
Actually it doesn’t matter. A learned friend of mine says that all heroic journeys are destiny. Whether you are caught unawares and must rise to the challenge, or have made a decisive choice and pursue what you want, the universe is working its magic through you.
Perhaps we can only tell via hindsight anyway what the hell was going on. Whether you chose the creative adventure or it chose you, all that’s important is how you respond.
- What heroic journey is choosing you?