I have some good news and some bad news.
First, the bad (because it’s always best to get it out of the way, right?).
So…last week was kinda hectic, and I didn’t have enough time to write my post for today.
Which brings us to the good news. The reason I ran out of time was because I submitted a flash fiction story to Splickety Magazine (HUZZAH!).
Instead of leaving you lonely on this fine Monday, I figured I could do a throwback post.
Concerning the startling realization that, when you think about it, fantasy heroes are crazy.
You’re living a comfortable if unadventurous life in Far Corner of the Realm. Daily life is routine, without abrupt or unwanted interruptions, dangers, or abnormal worries.
One day, a strange fellow falls out of the sky—or travels up the road if you want to be boring. Unbeknownst to you, Stranger will change the course of your life, but he seems harmless enough, nothing more than a visitor bringing tidings from Land Beyond.
Through some bewildering circumstances, you end up meeting Stranger. That’s when things get weird…
- You have a long conversation, preferably including a pipe on Stranger’s part.
- During said conversation, Stranger speaks of dark developments in Land Beyond that make your ears curl.
- An impossibly wide world opens up before you, given life by Stranger’s words.
- A bomb drops into your perfect world, shattering it to pieces, as you learn you’re caught in the entanglements of the dangers stalking the land.
A Crazy Choice
One thing leads to another, and before you know it, a decision looms before you like a threatening bank of storm clouds.
- Stay, which will likely produce discomforting amounts of trouble.
- Leave, which will certainly produce discomforting amounts of trouble.
The pressure mounts. You hate the thought of leaving but Stranger has made good points. Staying behind could be more detrimental. Anyway, if people (i.e. the kingdom) need you, it would be selfish to refuse.
In the end, you leave your home and everything you’ve known to venture into an unfamiliar land with a person you’ve only just met. You trade life’s comforts for the trials of the open road, possibly a quest that will take you to the opposite end of the kingdom.
An Unexpected Choice
Who would do this?
That’s part of what makes them heroic. It takes a certain type of person to abandon their regular life and leap blindly into what amounts to a journey that could deteriorate into a suicide mission.
That’s the beauty of it.
Some people are natural adventurers and seek opportunities to visit new places and partake in new experiences. Others, not so much.
Bilbo Baggins, anyone?
The point, however, isn’t whether they have a natural affinity for a life of errantry, but whether they made the choice in spite of their supreme desire to have nothing to do with Stranger and his quest.
Bilbo wants to stay home and ignore the Dwarves’ quest. The fact that he’s an unadventurous type makes his decision to accompany them that much more appealing.
I think that’s why most stories that pull an ordinary nobody into a grand quest are so popular. We admire someone who’s willing to forsake home, possibly never to see it again, because something was wrong with the world and they were part of the solution.
In this way, heroes are born—common folk who sacrifice their own pleasure and safety for a worthy cause. That resonates with people and encourages them to face similar situations in their life with the same courage and craziness.
Because you never know when a crazy choice will have a huge impact on the lives of those around you.
Would you make a good hero, or would you stay home? Of all the heroes you know, who was the craziest for leaving their everyday life in favor of a quest? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*This post appeared in original form on May 15, 2015