Refusal of the Call to the Hero’s Journey

According to Joseph Campbell, a common theme among those who are called to the Hero’s Journey is the Refusal of the Call. When faced with the daunting challenge to step out of his comfort zone, the hero often flinches, doubts, or runs the other way. Both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo did it before going to rescue Princess Leia. Even Jesus toyed with the idea when he asked God if there was any way this cup could be taken from him.

Should we refuse the call, as so many of us are apt to do, as it is indeed a step in the journey of every hero, the call will still go forth. For even if the answer is ‘no’, the call is still there awaiting the hero to become the affirmative he is destined to become. Every hero, when beckoned to rise to his natural stature, must first face the specters of fear, doubt, comfort, and security that beg him to remain in his complacency. It is a natural response to lean on the foundation of self preservation and wait for someone else, surely someone more suitable for the task, to take up the gauntlet and answer the call we try so desperately to avoid. Nevertheless, the call will persist until we come to the realization that if we are not the heroes to our own stories, there will be no one else to rise to the task.

The Hero may find several reasons to refuse the call to adventure. He may bring up familial obligations. He may not think he has what it takes and has intercepted someone else’s call. He may simply be selfish. Or he may be afraid. In all actuality, whatever reason he may cling to, it is usually based in fear. Indeed, whenever one of us shirks from a challenge, it is often fear which motivates us.

Perhaps we are afraid of letting down our loved ones or losing their respect. Perhaps we are afraid that we are unable to succeed so we opt not to even make an attempt. Perhaps we are afraid of losing out on something which is dear to us, to let go of our security blankets. Or perhaps we are afraid of our own success.

Marianne Williamson puts it extremely poignantly in her book A Return to Love when she quotes A Course in Miracles and states, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

For each of us, in whatever adventures we may be called to, no matter how big or small, let us remember that we are never given a problem to face without the means to achieve it. Though we may flinch, or balk, or run the other direction, let us realize that we truly do have the power to face any challenge and accept the success we envision.


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