It’s part of every fairytale that ever existed—and not just a part, but the defining factor. The Perilous Realm is the place where all the adventures happen. Without it, there would be no story. No journey. If it weren’t for the Perilous Realm, there would be no need for a hero.
Perilous Realms fascinate us, and we are inspired by the heroes who journey through them. A hobbit who makes the trek to Mordor; a girl who steps through a wardrobe. We long for a taste of that adventure and we dream of a chance to be that hero. In fact, we spend so much time dreaming that most of us forget that the Perilous Realm isn’t just a story.
The Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey may be the most widely impactful story of all time. There is a deep part of all of us that identifies with the struggle to be a hero; the struggle to enter the Perilous Realm.
— Emily Tjaden (@emily_tjaden) July 24, 2015
With so many things competing for our time in this world, and so many voices telling us what to do and who to become, it’s easy to succumb to the pressure to live the easy life. The expected life.
And yet there is something that draws us to return to the Hero’s Journey. Something prompts us to pick up those books or watch those movies that enter the Perilous Realm. There’s a voice inside you telling you that there’s something in there for you. Something grander and much more powerful.
Inside the Perilous Realm we see courage. Truth. Joy in the midst of peril. We see what Gandalf saw: that it is not great power that holds evil at bay, but the everyday acts of ordinary folk; acts of kindness and love.
I think that the reason we continue to return to the Perilous Realm in stories is because what we see there is the life that many of us truly desire.
Entering the Perilous Realm
Life in the Perilous Realm is never easy. It’s as Samwise Gamgee states in The Two Towers:
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened?
I think many of us find ourselves wondering the same thing in the midst of some of our own struggles. Because the truth is that Life is a Perilous Realm. Each day you wake up is a new adventure. There will be new joys and new pains with each dawning of the sun.
When you’re in a low place, it’s easy to feel like the end will never be happy, just like Frodo. But when you feel like Frodo, remember what Sam said next:
[…] in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even the darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something. Even when you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances for turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.
We need heroes like Frodo and Sam to enter the Perilous Realm in stories, because if they don’t, we never will. Part of the power of story is the ability to connect us to a world that we have not yet stepped into. Let that world inspire you.
Inside Your Perilous Realm
We find ourselves searching—or worse—waiting for adventure to come to us, and we don’t realize that life is a journey. Your journey. You enter new Perilous Realms every day; at work, at school, in relationships.
The problem is that we’re waiting to feel like a hero. But here’s the thing: heroes never really feel like heroes. If they did, they wouldn’t really be heroes. Because being a hero means standing up when others back down. It means being brave when you feel scared. It means pressing on when you don’t feel like a hero at all. To be a hero is to hold onto something much greater than yourself.
You were created for adventure. Are you willing to open your wardrobe and step out into the Perilous Realm?
What Perilous Realm do you find yourself in, and what are you holding onto?
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