I open at the close; Death and sacrifice

I open at the close.

I still remember the first time I read those words in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and had to work through the idea that Harry was going to die.

I remember feeling disbelief, rage, disbelief again and finally despair.

I had been through so much with Harry, and even though it infuriated me that it had come to this end, I had to accept the outcome because, after all, this wasn’t my story.

Luckily for me Harry ended up surviving, and all my emotional tumult was wasted. Yet even though I have re-read Harry Potter dozens and dozens…and possibly dozens more times since I was a child, every damn time I get to that part in the book I get super emotional. I realized a long time ago that it wasn’t about the fact that Harry would die(seemingly!), but more so that he was ready to make that choice. For someone that young to choose to die so that others would simply have a chance at a safer life was truly a beautiful ending for someone who had given all(albeit for nonsensical reasons due to the fact that half the stuff in Harry Potter is plain stupid, and I say this with deep love for the books!).

Self- sacrifice to something bigger than yourself is a difficult concept for many as we all live in such a narcissistic bubble these days, but it is the foundation of most hero stories and is what draws us to many of the characters in well known books and shows.

The idea of the hero is so pervasive because it touches upon a core issue for many of us, which is to push away that deep biological drive to save ourselves.  The hero does not want to die, but she believes that the responsibility to aid others is paramount and is worth dying for.

I think the world would be a very different place if each of us had something we felt was worth dying for, because it would give a deep sense of purpose to our lives.

In the end, death is the final chapter. Whether hero or villain we all must walk through its doors in the end. The reality of death pervades all life, sweetens it and terrifies the shit out of us.

The question is whether at the end of it all, we can look back upon our lives and know that, at the very least, we tried to stand by our beliefs.  Tried to figure out who we wanted to be, and strove towards those ideals.

And if you are one of those great souls who gives their lives in service to whatever your ideals are, hats off to you.

I will leave off with this little story pulled from the book bird by bird by Anne Lamott, because I believe innocence and the heroic many times go hand and hand.

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Remembering Honor

I have been thinking about the concept of Honor for awhile now.
I think for most people these days, especially in western culture, the idea of acting with honor simply does not enter into their minds, possibly for their whole lives.  It is not surprising considering it is a pretty archaic  idea, predominantly associated with knights and nobility.

I would say when looking back on History, the idea of Honor was mostly ridiculous.
How many thousands of Men killed others in the name of their offended Honor? people would grow enraged at the simple thought that someone was slandering them, and would call them out in defense of their so called Honor. These are simply insecurities manifesting as violence.

True Honor to me is a matter of oaths.

How someone speaks of you or to you, what other people do, all these things do not matter. What truly matters is that one sticks to a set of values or ideals and stakes their Honor on upholding those ideals against all odds.
Now this can be twisted in some ways as well, many knights and soldiers would remain true and loyal to lords or kingdoms that they knew were wrong and corrupt simply because they had sworn an oath and would not back down from it for fear of tarnishing their Honor, but this is unacceptable to me as well.

Honor is internal, it is loyalty to a set of ideas, not a person. Now you can find that someone is worthy of your loyalty because they embody the values that you hold dear, and so you focus on protecting them, guiding them, helping them in any way you can. But to follow a madman simply because you swore an oath is the same as tearing out a piece of your own soul.
Real Honor is what we are sorely lacking in this modern day and age. You only hear about it from soldiers, most of whom do not even understand why they are doing what they are doing, simply obeying orders.
But to truly take the time to think about who you want to be and what ideals you wish to aspire towards and focusing all your effort on honorably following them, now that is something worthy of praise.

I have failed again and again in my life due to a lack of discipline and focus on what is important, but there is always another chance to pick up the pieces and try again.

Honor can be useful when viewed as a set of principals to aspire too.

We should all remember Honor.

Stand strong and get it done

Sometimes you just need to stop asking questions and take a leap of faith.

Knowing that something is the right thing to do for yourself or others is impossible.

No matter how much proof we have, there is always the chance that the choice you make is not the right one, that it leads to unforeseen and possibly disastrous consequences.

But at the end of the day, you have to make the choice to just put one foot forward and see what happens. The most important part is being adaptable, paying careful attention and adjusting as you go along.

But you do need to stand for something eventually, regardless of how open minded you focus on being, no matter how much you shift opinions and change, there is a core of values and ways of being that eventually will settle deep inside you, and the worst thing you can do is not stand by them, allow weakness and fear to overwhelm you.

Whether it is in your day to day way of living in relation to others, the morals you espouse, or the lifestyle and way of training that you believe in, at some point you need to put your flag down and say this is who I am and what I stand for. With the caveat that you are a flawed human being and reserve the right to evolve and change your ideas as you progress on your journey.

Stand strong, get shit done, live your values and grow day by day.