Reality Adjustments

Area Man Quite Enjoying Step 2 of the Hero’s Journey

Apr 16, 2018

Area man Luke Trailblazer has been getting really into Joseph Campbell lately, especially the Hero’s Journey.

“I actually received a spiritual calling," said Luke Trailblazer.  "I am supposed to leave my job, wife, and all my obligations.  For some reason, I must hike the Pacific Crest Trail!  All the way from from Mexico to Canada!  I mean my last name is Trailblazer for god sakes.  I was born to do this!”

In his 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, author Joseph Campbell made famous the claim that all myths and stories are rooted in similar ideas, and that heroes’ adventures are nearly identical in format. The different stages of this adventure has come to be called the Hero's Journey.

Luke Trailblazer has been enjoying Step 2 of the journey, which is “Refusal of the Call.”  In Step 2, obligations or fear prevent the hero from starting the journey.

“That's it for sure,” said Luke Trailblazer.  “My wife got very upset when I told her I must do it alone.  Plus I have a thriving law firm.  It's not exactly easy either.  Some of the trail is scorching hot desert with very little water.  There are bears up north!  God, imagine all the crazy rednecks.”

But it was poetry that helped Luke Trailblazer in the end.

“I was really wrestling what to do, until I recalled The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.  He describes two roads in the woods, and he supposedly took the road less traveled.  The thing most people forget in this poem is that the narrator sees two paths: one of them scary that bends into undergrowth; the other grassy and nice.  The narrator takes the easier path, and then rationalizes his choice as having taken the road less traveled.  Such cognitive dissonance has given me the courage to remained fixed in step 2, in an almost zen kind of way. You see, I now have the courage to refuse my calling, citing my fears and obligations as part of my refusal, even going as so far to say that by staying I've taken the real hero’s journey, which is a much more difficult path, for refusing the calling takes more trials on the soul!  Plus as a lawyer I have a pretty cush life for sure.  Can't just give that up for nothing, for some childish whim, you know?"

Wow.  Regardless of where Step 2 ends up, we wish Luke Trailblazer a great journey!


We’ve included Campbell’s 17 stages to the journey below with a chart.  And also Robert’s Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken.  Enjoy your steps, wherever they shall be!

  1. The Call to Adventure – Hero receives calling to the unknown
  2. Refusal of the Call – Obligations or fear prevent hero from starting the journey
  3. Supernatural Aid – Magical helper appears or becomes known
  4. Crossing the First Threshold – Hero leaves its known world and ventures into the unknown
  5. Belly of the Whale – Final stage of the separation from the known world
  6. The Road of Trials – Hero must pass a series of test to begin the transformation
  7. Meeting with the Goddess/Love – Hero experiences unconditional love
  8. Temptation – Hero face temptation that will distract from ultimate quest
  9. Atonement with the Hero’s Father – Hero must confront the person that holds ultimate power in their life
  10. Peace and Fulfillment Before the Hero’s Return – Hero moves to a state of divine knowledge (usually through some form of death)
  11. The Ultimate Boon – Achievement of goal
  12. Refusal of the Return – Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, hero may be reluctant to return
  13. Magic Flight – Sometimes the hero has to escape with the boon
  14. Rescue from Without – Sometimes the hero needs a rescuer 
  15. Return – Retain wisdom gained on quest and the hero integrates wisdom in human society by sharing wisdom with the world
  16. Master of Two Worlds – Hero achieves balance between the material and spiritual (inner and outer world)
  17. Freedom to Live – Freedom from fear of death, causing hero to live in the moment and no concern for the future or regrets of the past  

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Tilted Glass