The Ultimate Boon – The Hero’s Journey Step 11

What happens when your reward isn't what you expect?

I had this whole very nice and “welcome back” and “thank you new subscribers” introduction all planned and written out and then I had to go and wreck it by writing a whole new third season, first episode script. Way to waylay my own plans!

Now I have no idea how to introduce this episode of the podcast, so let’s just get back on track with our deep dive into Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. You’ve all been fantastic Heroes to follow me this far, so here we go with step eleven, The Ultimate Boon. And I guarantee you that it won’t be what you think it is…kind of like how this introduction turned out.


Hello, Spiritual Seekers, and welcome to a brand new episode and a brand new season of Think Spiritual Podcasts! As always, I’m your host, Mark.

Starting up the podcast again has been a bit of a chore…no…that’s not correct. Writing for the podcast and getting scripts completed over the last couple of months has felt like a chore. I get a sentence out here, a paragraph there, but getting a “flow” going has been difficult.

So, I’ve done a lot of other writing instead. Small bits and pieces that will hopefully lead to bigger bits and more plentiful pieces.

All of this other writing also led me to what I believe is Think Spiritual Podcasts’ Ultimate Boon. As I’ve said on previous episodes, the production of this Hero’s Journey series is a Hero’s Journey of its own.

More on that later. For now, let’s take a look at what this Ultimate Boon stage is all about.

Within the Hero’s Journey, the attainment of the Ultimate Boon is the finding and receiving of the very thing that you’ve been questing for all along.

In the case of a Knight of the Round Table, for instance, the attainment of the Holy Grail would be the Ultimate Boon.

In the legends of the Buddha, his Ultimate Boon would be the attaining of enlightenment.

So, as a good Hero that is nearing the end of this Initiation stage of your Hero’s Journey, your Ultimate Boon, your goal, the thing you’ve sought all along, is now at hand.

Or is it?

As you reach this eleventh stage of your Hero’s Journey, I’m betting that your Ultimate Boon is no longer what you thought it would be. You may have your prize in your hand at this very moment and not feel an ounce of fulfillment. You may now be disgusted at yourself for ever wanting that paltry picking in the first place.

Now, don’t feel too bad about it if that is the case. If what I’ve ascertained is correct, then it is extremely common for the Hero, you, to discover that your Ultimate Boon is not what you thought it would be.

No, your Ultimate Boon will most likely be something that you desperately need and you probably don’t even know that you need it.

As has become the “norm” on this podcast, let’s do one of my favourite things and analyze a movie that I feel exemplifies this stage of the Hero’s Journey.

And, I actually have two movies today. We’ll skim one and go a little deeper into the other.

The first is the 2017 Netflix film Kodachrome starring an aging Ed Harris, the lovely Elizabeth Olsen and a  rather dashing Jason Sudeikis in a surprisingly serious role for him.

Sudeikis plays Matt Ryder who is a talent scout for a large music distribution company. Of course, typical of so many Heroes, his life is currently falling apart and the job he loves doing is in jeopardy.

His Call to Adventure turns out to be a road trip with his dying father. A road trip he is coerced upon with the promise of meeting an up and coming band that he wants to sign to his record label.

Oh yeah, and he can’t stand his father. They haven’t spoken in years and there is a lot of fighting during this road trip.

Yes, I know very typical story. Very common themes. Well, yes, this is another Hero’s Journey. We won’t get new stories until we understand this one fully.

Let’s fast forward through the movie to the point where Matt Ryder finally meets the band he wants to sign. He meets them, they like his pitch, they all agree that it’s a good deal.

Matt thinks he’s found his Ultimate Boon.

But then he sees them do something rude and childish and they humiliate Matt’s father.

During the road trip he’s managed to make some amends with his father and he’s made a strong connection with Elizabeth Olsen’s character, Zooey – who is very obviously Matt’s inner feminine archetype and his deep emotions personified.

She even disappears at one point in the film and comes back at the end. Matt has integrated his feminine.

Anyway, as I said, Matt thinks he’s found his Ultimate Boon, but then the band members humiliate his father.

Matt struggles for a moment, but then he calls out the band for their actions and he cancels the deal.

And ends up being fired from the job he loves.

All for a father that he has had a terrible relationship with throughout the years.

And this is the point where Zooey leaves the movie until the end. She was his father’s nurse. Now Matt has to care for his father on his own.

Which he ends up doing.

And father and son end up atoning with each other.

And Matt’s Ultimate Boon is to discover that even though his father didn’t show it well, he loved Matt more than anyone else in the world.

I won’t tell you what Matt’s actual Ultimate Boon was. I’m pretty good at seeing surprise endings coming in movies and this one was pretty easy to predict, but I will say that for Matt it was perfect. While he will obviously have to begin a new Hero’s Journey to figure out what his life will be from that point onward, atoning with his father and discovering what was most important to his father was definitely a better Ultimate Boon than signing some new band.

Alright, that’s one movie down. Let’s take a look at another…and you’re probably going to either laugh at this choice or groan and roll your eyes.

Wreck-It Ralph II: Ralph Breaks the Internet

However, before I get to that movie, in preparation for writing this part of the script I actually went and rewatched the first Wreck-It Ralph and was amazed to discover how deep and introspective that movie is.

In fact, I learned another Hero’s Journey lesson from that film: when you begin your shift from Villain to Hero, you’re probably going to finish your first Hero’s Journey and cause a bigger transformation to your world than you could have ever imagined.

And this is the case with Ralph in Wreck-It Ralph. He’s not wrong to want what he wants. He doesn’t want to be alone and living in a garbage dump. The other characters in his game shouldn’t be ignoring him and treating him terribly.

By the end of the film, I believe Ralph actually has made it all the way around the wheel of the Hero’s Journey and has created a brand new Normal Existence for himself – I know, I haven’t covered Normal Existence yet even though it’s technically the first stage of the Hero’s Journey. However, it’s also the last stage as well. That’s a hint about where this series is going, by the way.

I don’t want to talk too much about the first Wreck-It Ralph at the moment, because I think I actually want to cover it in another episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.

So, let’s move on to Wreck-It Ralph II.

Since Ralph made it all the way around the Hero’s Journey wheel in his first movie – and that’s a rarity, mind you – in Wreck-It Ralph II he is beginning a new Hero’s Journey. However, Wreck-It Ralph II is also Venelope’s Hero’s Journey – her path to finding bliss.

However, Ralph has one major lesson to learn in this film: he has to be okay with being alone.

This is Ralph’s biggest fear and insecurity. The desire for friends was one of his biggest motivators in his first movie. His fear of losing his best friend and being alone is his biggest obstacle in this second movie.

So, when Ralph sets off on this new adventure, he thinks that his Ultimate Boon will be to get Venelope’s game fixed and that everything will go back to Normal.

But, Ralph has to face and destroy his own insecurity. He has to face that fear of being alone and understand that trying to hold onto Venelope so hard will only make her miserable and destroy the friendship they have.

Ralph’s real Ultimate Boon is this moment: when he can sit in the Game Central Station, talk to his friend via the internet, and then sit quietly alone in the sun. And he is absolutely at peace.

Wait…is that Ralph’s Freedom to Live moment too? Did he just skippidy-do through the whole Return stage and wind up at another new Normal Existence?

Did Ralph just make it all the way around the Hero’s Journey wheel again???

Goddamn. Why are cartoon Heroes so much better than most live-action Heroes?

Most, mind you. I’ve talked about a lot of live action Heroes that have made it all the way around the wheel. Ryan Stone, Nancy Adams, Thor…except Thor took three movies to get around the wheel once…huh.

Have I kind of gone off-topic in this episode?

Okay, let’s rewind a bit here.

Going back to Wreck-It Ralph II and Ralph’s moment of peace in the sun, his Ultimate Boon moment – this is absolutely not what Ralph expected. Ralph’s goal was to have Venelope stay with him forever – ugh, Ralph had Devouring Mother syndrome – and he didn’t believe that he would be okay with being on his own.

But, he is okay. This Ultimate Boon is actually better than the one he was originally chasing. If he had attained what he thought he wanted, Venelope would have been with him, but she would have resented him forever after. Ralph’s life would have spiraled into a never-ending pit of self-pity and despair and loneliness brought on by always being in fear of Venelope leaving him.

The Ultimate Boon of Peace, of being okay with being alone from time to time, of still have Venelope in his life, but not always in his life makes their time together that much more special.

That Ultimate Boon of Peace allows Ralph to move forward in life instead of being stuck in the past, afraid of change.

And the same can happen for you. Did you have a goal in mind when you began your Hero’s Journey. Did the achievement of that goal, getting that thing, attaining that boon not seem as rewarding as you thought it would be?

Are you going to hang onto that goal, that thing, that supposed boon until it crumbles to dust in your hand? Is there something else staring you in the face that actually is what you’ve sought all along and you simply didn’t realize it until now?

So, whether your Ultimate Boon was exactly what you expected it would be or if, like so many Heroes, it turned out to be not what you expected, but exactly what you needed, then I hope you are ready to begin your path back to the place where your entire Hero’s Journey began.

Oh, you don’t want to go back?

Well, that’s okay too. Most Heroes Refuse to leave the Special World and Return home once their quest is complete.

But that part of the story will have to wait for the next Hero’s Journey episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.

Thank you very much for listening or watching today. Please like, share, comment, criticize, subscribe. If you care to support the podcast, please visit my Reverb sales page for music gear or my Etsy sales page for vintage items sourced by my lovely Christine.


I’m hoping to add some podcast-related items to the Etsy shop as well, but I haven’t had the time to focus on that yet.


You may also choose to simply send me some cash via PayPal.


Hmmmm…is that the Ultimate Boon for this podcast? To gain listeners and subscribers and financial supporters? I guess it definitely is the goal of any online foray of this sort.


I’ll check into a Patreon page at some point too. I’d like to hear some ideas from you as to what services or other content I could offer on that format.


I have been your host, Mark, this has been a talk about step 11 of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and how it relates to your personal life, and I know that if you set your eyes upon your goal and take the steps of your Hero’s Journey to change your Self, that you eventually will attain that perfect, Ultimate Boon that will, ultimately, change your world.

I will see you on the next episode of Think Spiritual Podcats…[meow] – I mean Podcasts!

Okay, I only made that joke because I kept missing that first “s” in “podcasts” while I was typing.

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