With just about everyone stuck at home, I’ve had plenty of time to revisit some of the heroes I’ve helped along the way. To remember the moments they not only overcame their most evil enemies, but also the moments they overcame their deepest fears. I love watching (and rewatching) the hero triumph in the end, the epic suit up scenes, the showdowns with the final boss, and the return to glory. And I’m always so proud to see each and every hero at the end of their quest, with a cape and a great haircut.
But those aren’t my favorite moments of the story. And I think they’re far from the most important.
The reality is, I’m so proud of those final moments of a story because it marks when the hero no longer needs me. It’s the moment they’ve overcome their obstacle and everything is right for them in the world. And people in that position need very little assistance. They’ve got it covered.
But they also need very little courage. They’ve already overcome their fears—it doesn’t take a great act of nobility and virtue to live happily ever after. You don’t need to dig deep within yourself and find some moxy to claim the treasure once you’ve faced your shadow. In other words, the story is over.
I’ve found the most important day in any quest is the day, despite no promise of reward, a hero digs deep within themselves and keeps going. It’s the untold, gritty truth behind the training montage—because when you strip back the time-lapse and 80s power metal, all you’re left with is the pain of training and the question of whether or not it’s worth it. Whether or not you can continue.
That’s what I think is the most important moment of the story. When all external promises of wealth, glory, and even successes are taken away. When everything a hero normally values are burnt away, and they must choose to rise from the ashes of their previous life and become something new. They’re not the most glorious moments. Not at first. But it is the thing that makes a hero a hero, the ultimate act of courage—to start again, just one more time. No matter how many times you have to try it.
So whether you’re reflecting back on your most recent quest or trying to find the strength to continue—remember: this might be your most important day.
May the road rise up to meet you!
P.S. I’m told my friends at the Hero’s Journal have cataloged my letters in one easy-to-read location—you can find them here.