Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Holy Smoke: The Supreme Ordeal

Year of Living Heroically #7- The Ordeal

So my lovelies, you might have noticed that I didn't post last month. I'm not going to say that I was going through my own Ordeal, but let's say that I am really glad that August is over. I don't know if I spent the month living heroically, but looking back on it, I should have just stayed in bed instead of choosing to go once more into the breach.

This month, we are talking about the Ordeal, aka The Supreme Ordeal, aka the Dark Moment, aka, Oh-MyGod-Luke-is-Dead-in-a-Trash-Compactor part in the story where our hero dies. But totally comes back. Its okay. You looked a little worried there for a moment.

After our trek with our allies, meeting the foe, and choosing, not quite brilliantly, to go toward the cave with the dragon, our hero has bottlenecked herself into the certain death. One of the reason's it is certain is the hero doesn't see it coming. The certain death is hiding in a blind spot with the hero's flaws. Ex: Luke's need to be a hero like his father and save the princess is his flaw that ends him up in a nasty situation.

The key to defining the supreme ordeal for me has always been that this event fundamental changes who the hero has been up to this point. Even though she has embraced all the things she has learned during her tests and use them to varying degrees of success, this event will break her because it is directly connected to an internal flaw fighting against her, preventing her from being the hero she needs to be. The supreme ordeal will shatter who she thinks she is. It will literally break them across a rack. It is perfectly tailored to destroy that person who crossed the threshold all those chapters ago. And if she survives, she will be purified to continue on her trek, OR she will fail and is doomed to repeat it again.

Think of our hero as a wad of clay who wants to grow up and be a real coffee mug (no personal preference here, a tea cup is perfectly acceptable). The journey so far as molded our hero into a cup, maybe gotten a nice coat of glaze and a handle. The supreme ordeal is the kiln that will change our hero from a mushy, moldable lump into something that is very much like a coffee cup. After this event, the hero can not go back to being an ordinary guy anymore than the newly fired cup can to back into a ball of clay.

So this takes a newly formed hero, this purer form of our main character, one that has been fundamentally changed, back on course to the reason they were on the journey in the first place. Providing that she didn't fail miserably (possibly another post for another time).

Now, what I'm not going to do is mention a movie with an actual dragon, because that would be too easy. I thought I'd mention two not-so magical supreme ordeals that might feel a little closer to home.

Devil wears Prada- Andy's trip to Paris- she really is not the sweet little Andy she was when she gets back from Paris. Though I wish my supreme ordeals had Simon Baker in them.

Dead Poet's Society- When Todd is forced to improv a poem in front of the entire class. Once done, he is a new student full of confidence who will stand up for his friends and teacher at the end of the movie.

Because I write paranormal, there are some teeth and claws in my supreme ordeals. In Diaries, Violet's
flaw was always her low self-esteem. When she is attacked on her first date in years, she is faced with her boyfriend's death or her accepting that she is powerful enough to save him. Violet comes out the other side a stronger shifter, but no longer just that quirky girl with her head in the sand.

In life, I think we all know what our supreme ordeals look like. They are the moments that we look back on and see that's were I changed. That hurt like hell and I'm stronger for it. Ordeals are very internal and person specific. My ordeal could be your Tuesday and vise versa.

So my parting thought to you for this month of living heroically is to realize that you can't know what part of another's journey they are on. For all you know, they just faced a dragon.

Amanda Arista
Author of Diaries of an Urban Panther

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