Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Gospel According to Thrones

I really don’t think I believe in God. There, I said it. I never will believe in any God that cares who people love, how people eat, or demand to be worshipped. And why would a creator give her creation the means to rationally seek knowledge, then ask that creation to blindly believe beyond what is rational. Yeah, I don't buy it.

I do, however, believe in the soul. I think a soul exists in every person. I think it lives in your strongest muscle, your tender and wounded heart, and the dark and scary corners of your brain.  And maybe that soul is eternal. Or maybe it quietly dies with your last breath. Or maybe it gets shattered when you die, and the shattered pieces find their way into the souls of those you love.
But I don’t know.

I think the Bible was written by the Stephen Kings, the George R. R. Martins, and the J.K. Rowlings  of their times. All of these writers tell beautiful, magical stories. And all of us tend to find pieces of these stories that feel they are speaking directly to us. Maybe that is what our soul is for. Our lungs give us oxygen, our kidneys filter out toxins, and our soul recognizes the parts of the world that speak to our hearts and minds.

But I don’t know.

I’ve been reading Game of Thrones. It took me two false starts to get into it. But eventually, it reached out and pulled me in.  And I started watching the television series again, too. It is an amazing story that speaks to my soul. It’s like the Bible. With dragons.
My two favorite characters are Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister. Arya is the spitfire tomboy that is both fierce and kind. Tyrion is a bookish dwarf who never lets his disability stop him from winning battles and living life to the fullest. Actually, it just occurred to me why I may relate to these characters so strongly. Arya is like the Derby Girl. Tyrion is like the MS patient.  They are people from warring factions who find themselves tangled in an epic tapestry. Thanks to my soul for grabbing those ideas from the ether.

Here are some of the truths I have found in both the written work and the theatrical work of A Song of Ice and Fire:

"Loyal service means telling hard truths."
In a scene where one character openly questions battle plans, his commander questions his loyalty.  For me, loyalty is both a tricky concept and a straightforward definition. I believe loyalty means both faithfulness and unconditional support. I’m not sure which of these concepts are trickier. But I think they both require the same thing. The truth. Only with the truth can there be trust. And only trust allows you to both give and receive loyal service.

"A bruise is a lesson, and each lesson makes us better."
Arya reminds herself of this when she takes a hit with a wooden sword during her dueling lessons. It is something we all need to remind ourselves from time to time. Each hurt in our lives, each injury, betrayal, or failure contains a lesson that we can only unearth once we clear the muck away.
"Only by admitting what we are can we get what we want."
The treacherous Littlefinger admits that he will never win a duel with strength or skill. He defeats his enemies with cunning and guile. He knows where he is weak and where he is strong. He plays his strengths. We all need to discover and foster our strengths and recognize our limits. We need to know our boundaries before we can break them down.

"What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her? A stupid saying. What we don’t know is usually what gets us killed."
Again Littlefinger drops some truth on us. He knows the only way to take the next step is to see where that step will land. Knowing is always better than not knowing. The people that don’t believe this, the people who think they are protecting you (or cowardly protecting themselves) from the truth are incredibly na├»ve. Truth always bubbles to the surface eventually. It is better to know.

"Every flight begins with a fall."
Didn’t the Bible use this one too? Poor Bran Stark has been shoved out the window and will never walk again. But in his dreams, he can fly. He is hesitant at first, because he doesn’t know how to fly. He is afraid he will fall. A friendly raven with three eyes reassures Bran that of course he will fall! That is how you begin to fly! The first step towards freedom is always the scariest.

"A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge."
Tyrion is asked why he reads. It's a valid question. Why do we read? Why do we learn? I think Tyrion's explanation is the best one. We need the thoughts of others to define our own thoughts. We should always challenge what we believe to be true. 
"There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: Not today."
Arya’s dueling instructor—or her “dance teacher” as she calls him, as to not tip off that a girl is learning swordplay—tells her this so she will begin to see the world from a new perspective. He first asks if she prays to the gods. Both the old and new, she answers.  But praying to the gods will get you nothing. The world is an incredibly harsh, incredibly brutal, incredibly beautiful place to be. Don’t waste you energy on praying that your wishes might come true. Open your eyes, look around, and embrace the now. You have already won if  you can climb into bed at night and say to yourself: Told ya. Not today.

I’m sure as I continue to read and watch, I will find more truths. That is the beauty of this world we live in. The truth often hides in unexpected places and is usually never where we are told to look by others.

But for now, I leave you with this:

No comments:

Post a Comment