Art Inspiration: A Hero’s Journey.
I am by no means a hero. I do not consider myself one, but I do travel a hero’s journey every time I sit down to work.
Nothing ever comes easy. Life is struggle. And it is this struggle that allows for opportunity – the opportunity to succeed. To succeed means to face every ugly, fire-breathing, three-headed beast you encounter on your journey and be reborn a better version of yourself.
The Hero’s Journey is my main source of inspiration because it speaks to my humanity and the struggles that come right along with it. It is the most human story we have ever told.
A Star Wars Hero’s Journey Breakdown
If you’re not familiar with the hero’s journey, I’ll break down the stages for you with some brief explanations…Star Wars style!
- Ordinary World – Luke Skywalker began his journey on the desert planet of Tatooine, where unless you get in a fight in the Mos Eisley Cantina or owe a Hutt money, life is pretty ordinary.
- Call to Adventure – Luke stumbles upon a message that R2-D2 starts playing of Leia, intended for a an Obi-Wan Kenobi. The message says, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”, and sets Luke upon a path to find Kenobi, who he believes might be the old hermit, Ben Kenobi. The evil Galactic Empire has finally made its way into Luke’s “ordinary world”.
- Refusal of the Call – Luke’s sense of duty falls with his loyalty to his known family and his responsibilities to help with the burden of keeping the family farm. It takes an especially sassy droid running off to force Luke to onto his path.
- Meeting the Mentor – Enter Obi-Wan Kenobi. After Luke finds R2-D2, it’s Kenobi who rescues him and the droids with a bit of Jedi trickery. After R2-D2 delivers Leia’s message to Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan proceeds to explain the situation. He tells Luke about the Jedi, a what might appear to be a half-truth about his father, so as to help set Luke on the right path, and urges him to become a Jedi, like his father before him.
- Crossing the Threshold – The threshold in this cases, is the Mos Eisley Cantina. A hub for hooligans, scavengers, and scruffy-looking nerf herders, it is here Luke and Kenobi meet Han and Chewie, who act as a means to cross that threshold and begin the journey.
- Tests, Allies, Enemies – The departure from Tatooine becomes an escape when Stormtroopers attempt to enforce Galactic rule. How dare they try to leave Tatooine with Galactic approval. It’s here that Luke gains allies, and is introduced to his enemies.
- Approach to the Inmost Cave – The inmost cave represents an insurmountable obstacle. It represents fear and struggle. Luke approaches this inmost cave when he and Kenobi discover that Alderaan, the planet they were bound for, was completely destroyed by the Galactic Empire’s Death Star. Despite Luke’s developing abilities with the Force, the task at hand becomes seemingly impossible.
- Ordeal – Luke must rely on his developing skills to assist with the rescue of Leia. This ordeal is magnified in significance with the “death” of Kenobi, at Vader’s hands.
- Reward – For his heroics, Luke is awarded a pilot position in the Rebel Fleet, and is now ready for the final chapter (in this chapter) of his journey.
- The Road Back – The road back is traveling back to an ordinary world. In this case, that is a world without the Empire. The only way to ensure that world can exist is to destroy the Death Star.
- Resurrection – Luke begins to trust his training and his Jedi abilities. Upon hearing Kenobi’s words, Luke places his faith in the Force, destroys the Death Star, and takes his first step toward becoming a Jedi.
- Return with the Elixer – Hope. Upon Luke’s return, the Rebellion has hope. It is this elixer of hope that represents the success of this hero’s journey. The elixer is also represented by the medal presented to Luke and his allies, by Leia.
Why the Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey has resonated with people for generations, and I’m no exception. It’s the fantastic, supernatural or futuristic sci-fi stories, yes. It’s the characters, certainly. Most of all, it’s those characters overcoming seemingly impossible tasks with thoughtfulness, grit and determination, and coming out the other side improved versions of themselves.
Take Batman, for example. Man, that guy had it rough! He had to go through some major childhood trauma, battling insane, unpredictable, incessant villains. Sure, he had a load of inheritance and a great butler, but it was in the struggle of overcoming the death of his parents, mastering self-control in martial arts, and choosing to walk the difficult path every damn day, that he became a hero.
The Struggle of a Hero’s Journey
No matter what your situation is at the beginning of your Hero’s Journey, you hear that call to adventure. Naturally, the first response is resistance. Resistance comes in many forms, but what it comes down to, is fear. It’s no coincidence that the Galactic Empire rules through fear. This fear could be a fear of failure, ridicule, public humiliation, and even success.
Why would anyone fear success?
Success leads to the unknown. It leads to change. Success puts you down a path where you have to keep succeeding. You have to keep pushing yourself because, otherwise, you will lose your footing, and fail. We all fear success because we fear the unknown. We fear that there will be a beast too big, a maze too complex, or a Sith Lord too cunning.
Fear is the biggest source of resistance, but if you don’t face your fear, challenge yourself, struggle, and work through those things that are difficult, you will never get the opportunity to really know what you’re capable of. You would also be depriving the world of everything you have to offer.
“You don’t get to know what your boundaries unless you push them.” – Joe Rogan