In stories, the stakes are higher. Saying “yes” to the unknown can be scary. Even life-threatening. Any adventure is like that.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy runs away from home to save Toto from the clutches of the horrible Miss Gulch. On her travels she meets Professor Marvel, a kind older man who wants the best for Dorothy and decides she should go home. So he looks into his crystal ball and warns her that Auntie Em is ill. Afraid for her aunt, Dorothy tries to return to the farm. Unfortunately, she gets caught by the tornado and is whisked up, up, and away.
Dorothy answers the Call to Adventure by running away. The situation at home is bleak. No one pays any attention to her and Miss Gulch has threatened Toto, one of the things Dorothy holds most dear. With no relief in sight, Dorothy takes the only avenue possible—escape. Had the Call to Adventure been a simple one, Dorothy would have continued on her merry way with Toto. But life isn’t always simple. Complications arise. Those complexities occur with the introduction of Professor Marvel and his insight into teenage problems. Faced with a potentially ailing aunt, Dorothy’s sensitivity and caring kick in, and she Refuses the Call to go back home.
Why we refuse
Our desires lead us to take action every day. Sometimes that action is carefully planned. Sometimes our steps feel wayward and impulsive. And sometimes we dangle our toes in the water and go no further. Almost six years ago I received a Call to Adventure with the idea for my book on F.A.I.T.H. It was a wonderful idea, and I did nothing. The thought circled time and again over the next few years, and still I did nothing. Talk about Refusing the Call. But I wasn’t ready. It took several more years before I was ready to answer. And then I dove in and stepped out on my journey.
There are many reasons to Refuse the Call: avoidance (what I did above), not being ready (what I did above), excuses (money, health, time), conflicts (you want to go to Hawaii, s/he wants to go to Vegas), and fear (you may get hurt or killed). All of them are valid and all depend on the person. A courageous hero may forge ahead, no matter what. A sensitive heroine may hesitate, worried about other people’s safety or well-being.
Is your hero/heroine ready to knock down the castle walls? Or is s/he saying “No, don’t make me do it”?
Photo by Stuart Miles (modified)