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The Reluctant Hero

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Today we're exploring the third stage of being a hero (from Joseph Campbell's book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces):


3: The hero is reluctant at first.

Often at this point, the hero balks at the threshold of adventure. After all, he or she is facing the greatest of all fears -- fear of the unknown. At this point Luke refuses Obi Wan's call to adventure, and returns to his aunt and uncle's farmhouse, only to find they have been barbecued by the Emperor's stormtroopers. Suddenly Luke is no longer reluctant, and is eager to undertake the adventure. He is motivated.

Captain Jack Sparrow is ever the reluctant hero, constantly trying to take the cowards way out, do the dastardly thing. He becomes a hero despite himself. Even Sam hesitates at the beginning of the journey, stopping at the outer limits of the Shire, having second thoughts about leaving. Buffy didn't want to be the slayer, she just wanted to be prom queen. I'm noticing that in each of these instances there is some deep motivation. And it's not something light - like tea and cookies - it's desperate situarions, life and death, losing everything, friends in danger, that sort of thing.

Something to consider:

I'm sure we've all been here... hesitating on the threshold of a new experience, something life changing about to occur. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Because it seems to me that what we have here is the "tricky" part. How do know the difference between taking the leap of faith that will put you on the path to fulfilling your destiny, and stupidly jumping into a pool of sharks where you will be eaten alive? Is there a difference? What would have happened to Sam if he had stayed in the Shire? What if Aragorn had chosen not to go with Frodo? Is it possible to say "no" to something like this? Would another hero step in? Or would circumstances have simply forced Sam, Aragorn, Buffy, and Luke Skywalker onto their respective paths anyway?

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