The Hero’s Journey – Mr Chorizo goes out for a coffee

Welcome to my writing exercise.

Here’s an attempt at doing a day in my life according to the Hero’s Journey formula.

Since I can’t go two days in the marketing / copywriting world without somebody mentioning Joseph Campbell, I figured (eventually) that I might as well take it seriously.

So here’s my morning:

Ordinary World

I wake up in the dark and figure it’s pretty close to dawn, so I roll out of bed and stumble to the kitchen. Damn it’s cold.

And apparently, raining as well.

Once I’m on my feet I drink a glass of water, stretch out my joints and check to make sure nothing’s broken from yesterday. Two rounds of sparring in boxing class and I seem to be fine, except for a painful bruise on one of my arms where it caught a flying elbow.

Call to Adventure

Opening the cupboard above the stove, I realize that I don’t have any coffee. Only instant.

Of course.

Yesterday I was so tired after getting my ass kicked that I didn’t make it to the supermarket. Tried to talk myself into it for over an hour. Maybe two. But in the end, putting on pants seemed like too much.

Anyway, today I’m regretting it.

Refusal of the call

I’m resigned, momentarily, to reality. I put a pot of water on to boil. Instant’s not that bad. And anyway, there won’t be too many cafés open on Sunday morning at 8 AM.

Might as well make the most of it.

I pull on my sweatpants and go back to bed, coffee and laptop in hand, where I spend a couple of hours doing not much, uninspired, cold and sore.

This will never do.

Meeting with Mentor

I started watching a Joseph Campbell interview last night on YouTube. And in my meaningless futzing around on the internet I come back to it.

Right to the point where he talks about finding your bliss.

Coffee sounds about as close to “bliss” as I’m going to find on a rainy day like this, in the cold and dark, when I should be working.

Maybe Campbell’s right.

Maybe I need to slay that dragon, and come back home a better man.

Crossing the threshold

I shed my grey sweats put on real jeans. One sock, then the other. A pair of black running shoes. A hoodie. (Cue getting-dressed montage here.)

Then – briefly checking to make sure my ass looks okay in the mirror – I grab my keys and a handful of change and walk out the door.

Shit it’s cold. But there’s no going back now.

hero's journey

That’s another rainy day, and another neighborhood. Calle Arenal at the edge of Puerta del Sol, right here in Madrid

Tests, allies, enemies

As soon as I get outside the building, it starts raining full force. The wind is blowing through the trees and not even the beggars are out. Probably sitting at home, where it’s warm, with a pot of (real, non-instant) coffee.

Lucky bastards.

Plodding across one empty street and then another, I meet a girl walking a pug. She offers to hold her umbrella over me until the next corner. Then she turns south and we part ways.

And here’s the dilemma: I don’t know which café to go to. Starbucks doesn’t sound heroic. And most of the other places are closed. I’m not going to catch the bus to the center just to have a coffee.

I come to the main drag – the towers of the financial district are enveloped in fog and the cars swish by on 8 lanes. I put the hood up on my sweatshirt.

For some reason the light just isn’t changing.

Approach to the inmost cave

Then it does, and I cross.

A bus shines its lights in the dim grey of this miserable daylight.

I’ve really done it now. I’m on the rich side of town. This is nothing like where I live. The buildings are huge and modern, and there sure aren’t many bloggers over here.

If I’d known, I would have stayed home with my instant coffee. Maybe made some tea.

No, that would have been even worse. On a day when instant coffee is uninspiring, tea is even worse.

Will I make it?

Will I find a café that’s open?

Will I end up at Starbucks?

Ordeal

Jesus it’s cold.

The wind shears through my sweatshirt and makes my (large, heroic) package shrink and pucker within my jeans.

I feel like I might collapse and be buried under fallen leaves.

The American embassy will probably have to ship my body back home. Will they even find me? Or will I end up in a pauper’s grave in La Almudena?

What’s the protocol for foreigners dropping dead on the rich side of town?

Maybe I should have worn a coat.

Fuck this.

Then I see it… On the south side of the shopping center, there’s a café, and it’s open. The comforting orange light spills feebly through the windows, and I can see a couple of guys inside watching the replay of last night’s football match.

With frozen fingers, I reach out and grasp the door handle.

Reward

Inside, the smell is of coffee and toast. I order a double americano and sit down at a table.

Finally!

I could have died out there. Almost did, in fact.

But the flavor of the coffee gives me a boost. The caffeine nudges my neurons into activity.

This is it! I’ve won!

I’ve slain the beast – the dragon of my own laziness – and put on pants. I’m out of the house before 12 on a rainy cold Sunday.

I’ve found the elixir of life, and it’s dark brown and bitter.

This is the moment when I realize: I’m a hero, goddammit.

The Road Back

Paying my €1,50 and stopping off at the restroom, I begin the long, arduous journey home. This has been quite an adventure.

Will there be cheering fans waiting for me back on my side of town?

Fathers offering up their nubile, virgin daughters?

Perhaps.

I feel victorious. The caffeine is now dancing across my synapses, and I just know that from now on (until at least lunch time) nothing is going to be the same.

The Resurrection

As I cross the final (mostly) empty street before home, I must forget to look both ways.

There’s usually no-one coming even on a busy day. Rainy Sunday, even less.

But this time, a Citroen screeches to a halt inches from my kneecaps.

A brush with death, and it turns out to not even be my fault.

I’ve got a walk sign. He was the one trying to run the red light.

I’ve been close to death before. And it was even (usually) my fault. Getting lost in the mountains, or distracted by a girl in a miniskirt and nearly run down.

This time, with the coffee tingling in my veins, knowing I’ll make it home to share my ideas (thanks wifi)… this time I feel reborn.

Return with the elixir

Back at home.

Renewed, refreshed, and optimistic, I grab my laptop and sit down. It’s time to make that video. Time to write that article.

I’ve slain the demons, drank the coffee and come back home victorious.

Now it’s time to share my victory with the world.

Yours,

Mr Chorizo.

P.S. So I guess Campbell’s structure is a bit different. I based the story on this article: The hero’s journey, which doesn’t mention that actually it’s Christopher Vogler’s structure. Anyway, whatever. According to wikipedia, there are different formulas.

P.P.S. For more randomness, check out the Ghost Town. Technically, it’s the same story – mainly just a long description of me walking across the street – but a different writing exercise.

Daniel
 

How did I end up in Madrid? Why am I still here 12 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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