“Strength of character” and “wield a pen” are two phrases my mind has been mulling over for several days now.
In this age of memes, we are bombarded with images overlaid with quotes. Sometimes the sayings are hilarious, sometimes they’re sentimental, and sometimes they’re thought-provoking. One running theme in pop culture is the Viking era, at least it is in my circle.
The general consensus is that “Vikings” were violent, tall, strong men and women who used axes for diplomacy, drank mead from horns, pillaged, were dirty and heartless. This posting is not to argue these oft times misleading judgements on the Norse culture during the Viking era. Rather, it is to expound upon the ideal that Norsemen were incredibly strong in mind, spirit, soul, and body.
As Friða Káradóttir is realized in my heart and soul, I find myself more able to become me. I am going to explore becoming stronger in my mind, spirit, soul, and body over the next several posts I make. Care to join me?
Strength of character. Wield a pen.
These memes we read daily in our social media feeds, specifically the Viking/Warrior ones, encourage us to be warrior-like in spirit, to be fighters, to be feared. It is difficult to track the origin of the quotes, but you know them well, I’m sure, so I won’t quote them. They imply failed assassins should run in fear for what the would-be victim will do. They encourage lovers to find a woman who will fight by your side, and not to fall in love with a damsel in need of your saving. These memes speak of shieldmaidens holding their own, defiant of social norms that would force them to be weak. And I think to myself, How silly of me to think I could become a woman of the Old Norse world. I am no fighter. I’m not physically weak but there’s no way I could hold a shield wall or wield a sword against a foe. I am timid and shy; it takes great effort for me to be bold and get out of my comfort zone.
But then I quieted my thoughts. I stopped myself. My soul reminded me of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s phrase in Richelieu, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
I wield a pen. I may not wield a sword and shield or an axe, but I wield a pen.
Now, anyone can “wield” a pen. Even Stephen Hawking found a way to continue to “wield a pen” after his illness prevented him actually holding one in hand. Anyone can write words on paper, type letters into cyberspace, but to actually be as effective as a warrior with words takes skill and knowledge. Will my words be warrior-like? I don’t want to kill or mame anyone, but could I stop a person dead in their tracks with words? Can I cause effective change in one’s behavior by simply writing a few words with a pen…? I am no Aristotle, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, or Jane Austen.
But then I quieted my thoughts. I stopped myself. But I am me. I read. I listen. I discuss. I think. I process. I analyze. I am. And if I want to wield a pen like a shieldmaiden, I need to develop my warrior skills as any fighter would. I need to practice. I need to learn techniques. I need to be corrected and instructed. I need to internalize the warrior philosophies and principles my ancestors possessed deep within their core.
Strength of character.
Warriors, I have learned, are strong physically. It takes strength to hold a shield and swing a sword. It requires muscle memory to accurately throw shots. It takes practice to see holes and take advantage of opportunities. Becoming stronger physically is a topic for another day. For now, I need to develop my “shieldmaiden” and “warrior” skills differently from those who actually fight in war.
Strength of character.
I need to understand and be confident in my own strength of character. A person’s character traits are all the aspects that form the core being of the person’s attitude and behavior. Each person possesses both good and bad traits, many of which are classified by social norms and cultural expectations, but there are certain traits that cross all cultural barriers.
What is my attitude on a daily basis? How do I react to stressors? How do I treat people? What messages do my facial expressions convey?
In keeping with the theme of Old Norse culture and becoming Friða, I consider the Norse virtues of courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, industrialousness, self-reliance, and perseverance.
If I am to wield a pen as a noble warrior would, I need to consider my strength of character. As I read and listen to the words of others, I need to possess the strength to block what would destroy me and incorporate that which would make me stronger. I need to “spar” with those who challenge my thoughts, engaging in discussions that promote deeper thought and higher cognitivie development.
And I need to write more, and write more often. I need to stare at a blank page or screen until the words flow. I need to write until I am so weary I have no words left or my fingers can no longer hold the pen. That’s the way a good warrior practices and develops skill. That’s how a mighty warrior lives to fight another day, practicing even when he doesn’t feel like it, practicing rain or shine, hot or cold, training until he can no longer stand.
May you find ways in which you make your mark in this world. May you find the strength to follow your dreams and pursue your passions.