I am currently working on a really hard chapter of The Saltwater Twin – hard because it kicks up all kinds of not very pleasant emotional turmoil. Also, my wonderful, wonderful pooch is getting old and facing illness. Also, it’s winter. In order to face these difficulties, I have been shoring myself up with hot chocolate, carrot cake and The Lord of the Rings.
I read Tolkien’s trilogy for the first time in fifth grade – I had to take breaks because the Ringwraiths gave me nightmares. Last week I looked for my copies of the books; I felt that hot chocolate/carrot cake/LOTR breaks at regular intervals would be very beneficial in navigating the difficult emotional terrain of writing this chapter and taking Levi to vet appointments. But I must have given away my yellowed paperback copies in a book purge at some point, because they were nowhere to be found. So, I ordered them on Amazon, and rented the movies to tide me over until they arrive. And I have to say, they hit the spot. It is so satisfying to spend time in a world where good is gloriously good and evil irredeemably evil, and they’re so comfortingly and clearly delineated. Good is Liv Tyler on a white horse with a gleaming silver sword, and evil looks like an orc.
Watching the films, I was also buoyed by some very fine encouraging speeches. Gandalf has a bunch, as do Aragorn and even Sam Gamgee. When Aragorn rallied the troops outside the Black Gate, I really wished he were my next door neighbor and could ride his charger through my living room brandishing his sword and shouting that no matter how many Uruk-hai are gnashing their hideous fangs at me, I must muster my courage for the battle ahead.
In doing life and art, I think, finding solace (even carrot cake) is helpful, but mustering is also key. I started thinking about mustering – pep talks and rallying cries and how they can spur folks to achieve remarkable things. Turns out, there is a standard pep talk formula. You must acknowledge the difficulties, define the stakes and the opposition and single out the moment as historic. Note, for example, Kennedy’s inaugural address or Shakespeare’s Henry V’s speech at Agincourt. Another of my favorite pep talk purveyors is Coach Taylor.
Friday Night Lights, anyone? Clear eyes, full hearts, makes me want to play football. Anyone else have a favorite inspiring speech – from history, film or literature? Please share in the comments. Mustering is key.