The great movies enlarge us.
They civilize us.
They make us more decent people.
– Roger Ebert
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. …
It doesn’t interest me who you are, or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
– Oriah Mountain Dreamer
During the years I lived in Seattle (‘74 – ‘85) my best friend and I developed a form of ‘cheap entertainment’ which I came to refer to as our ‘Fear of Death Workshop’. It was … a rope swing.
We would take a piece of heavy nylon rope to the 20th Avenue NE bridge where it went (in a level fashion) over the creek and ravine of Ravenna Park. This short stretch of road was supported by an old style (erector-set type) steel bridge. There was a big arch, each end of which was (in turn) supported by a big concrete “foot”.
We would bring the rope with us each time we used it. (If we had left it there, some city employee would certainly have been instructed to cut it down or remove it. And this would not have been good from our point of view; for our rope was a piece of Samson Cordage, continuous filament, tubular-braided mooring line … which I had salvaged from the big “paper” dumpster which was (always) on the pier, near the submarine tender I was assigned to in the Navy, in San Diego. Though slightly worn, it was plenty strong for the use we were putting it to … it was probably one inch in diameter. Soft … but very strong. Ideal for this purpose.)
We put a good-size (bowline) loop in the top end. And this loop was protected from wear by a short length of fire hose, which encased the entire loop. We would climb out to near the middle of the arch, and (with a girth hitch) suspend the rope from a certain steel girder.
What a set-up! This was ideal for a rope-swing. We also tied (another, permanent) bowline loop in the bottom end of the rope. This was to put your foot in, so that you did not have to depend merely on the strength of the grip of your hands … to keep you alive. Your foot and leg could then take most of the force.
The south slope of ground (under the south end of the bridge, downhill from the ‘foot’) was a long stretch of soft dirt. From this slope you could easily reach the stationary rope … or, if you just rode the swing till you nearly stopped swinging, you could easily step off onto the slope. And yet you would never hit the slope when you swung. It was perfect.
To get the ‘full ride’ you would have to climb up on top of the big concrete foot (from the uphill [south] side … then (with someone else’s help, and by means of a length of small rope) pull the big rope up to you. Then, sitting on the edge of the concrete precipice, with one foot in the loop, and one hand just above (the strategically placed) knot in the mooring line … with a considerable drop just beneath you, the abyss in front of you, and the weight of the rope pulling you into it … (sometimes after several minutes of mental preparation … looking death in the face) … you go for it.
The effective length of this rope … was only 50 feet, but it seemed like more than that.
I just now did a calculation for the period of a 50-ft. pendulum. It’s nearly 8 seconds. That means that rope swing would take you north for four seconds … then south for four seconds.
But I don’t think this really conveys very much.
One time (with my friend Tony Littrell hanging onto me (not the rope), and his foot on top of mine) … when we got to the end of the first full swing, I came to the realization that I was hanging onto the rope with only my last finger joint(s) … just my finger tips. The force was considerable.
Another time (I think this was the time we came the closest to death, doing this), my best friend and I were down near the creek, when a friend of ours jumped off. And we both watched as, when she let go of the rope, at the bottom of her first swing … and she sailed … perhaps 15 feet above us, spread-eagled, face up, rotating gracefully … and landed in the moist earth and grass on the north side of the creek. She split the crotch out of her jeans and got the wind knocked out of her … but she didn’t die. (in fact, she was basically uninjured) But she very easily could have died, had she happened to strike a rock with her head. Minutes after this incident, Dave and I removed all the rocks from this “emergency landing field”.
We didn’t realize (till after) – that Jacquie was wearing cotton dress gloves.
After that, I found a piece of nylon seat-belt strap … enough to wrap twice around a person’s waist and then tie off (making a safety belt) … and this would get connected to the main rope with a short length of stout nylon rope (which I tied there permanently) … and could be joined to the safety belt with a big carob beaner.
After this … a person (even if they had a heart attack) would not die from swinging from this rope and losing grip. You could not fall off, once fastened in.
But (even after that) … the business of getting yourself to jump off into the abyss (especially if you’d never done it before) … was scary as hell.
We did this for years (every now and then … especially when we had special company / guests).
Sometimes I would charge people (a stranger who happened by) five cents to go on the rope swing.
I’m grateful that no one ever got much hurt doing it.
In any case, the whole rope-swing exercise will count as warrior training … even the technical/technological aspects of it.
A warrior must be willing to confront death, danger, defeat, humiliation, pain & discomfort … many things. And the best warriors will be those who train the most.
Actually, we are all training. Every day … we train something.
And the way we are right now … it’s the result of all our training.
For example … suppose our toilet (in our house) malfunctions. What will we do? Will we take the lid off the tank and try to figure out what’s going on with it? Will we try to fix the problem?
If NOT … then we are deficient in our warrior training. If we do not even try, it’s probably because we have given ourselves permission to steer clear of humiliation … of the feeling of inadequacy. We do not want even to risk feeling ‘stupid’ or ‘inadequate’. Mmm?
I have on occasion – tried to encourage young math students – by trying to help them see that learning math … is excellent warrior training. That’s because math is hard. It’s constantly humiliating. It makes you feel stupid.
Concepts you were getting acquainted with about two weeks earlier are beginning to make sense … but what you’re studying right now … you always feel at sea with that.
It’s warrior training.
In this (12-minute) video
Tom van der Linden discusses the importance of the Warrior Archetype.
(I like him very much.)
The warriors which appear in our movies and comic books are expressions of this archetype … which is a Basic Building Block our our psychology.
It’s the most controversial of all the archetypes … because of the existence of the “shadow” warrior – the bipolar dysfunctional archetype. This type of warrior revels in cruel behavior, often masking their hidden insecurities and their unresolved emotional issues.
Most warriors are men, it’s true; but the warrior archetype (inside us) helps us ALL (not just men) claim our power … and assert our identity. It helps us confront and overcome our fears; it helps us find courage.
The inner warrior arrouses … energizes & motivates us. It pushes us to take the offensive, and face the challenges that life puts before us.
The warrior does not see himself (or herself) as a victim … but takes responsibility for his own life.
Carol Pearson says –
To identify as a warrior is to say – ‘I am responsible for what happens here’
‘I must do what I can to make this a better world for myself and for others.’
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette
The Hero Within
(Six Archetypes We Live By : Orphan, Innocent, Magician, Wanderer, Warrior)
by Carol S. Pearson