“It would be nice if we knew which questions to ask.” Or, “Wouldn’t it be great if we spoke the same language?” Maybe, “How come they don’t provide some sort of manual?” Those kinds of questions, and variations ad infinitum, are familiar because life is ever a learn-as-you-go proposition. The language, questions, and manual, of course, changing with the individual.
Last night, I got to watch How To Train Your Dragon. I loved it and will probably watch it several more times, even though it is an animated film, and I don’t usually like them a lot, but could definitely be open to changing my mind in the future. It is the story of a Hero’s Journey, the Jungian Individuation Process, the Seeking and Finding of the Grail epic, all rolled into one very delightful and very meaningful piece of entertainment. And all of my above questions, in some form or another are included.
The reason I watched it is because I dearly love dragons. Have done so for many, many years, chasing down stories, illustrations, and whatever trivia I could find concerning them. And yes, I have read all of the Anne McCaffrey, Dragonriders of Pern series. That was actually the beginning of my fascination with them. She, and they, fired up my imagination, pun intended.
So, what did I particularly like about the movie? Everything. It is billed as a Comedy and that suits me. Life is often a choice of either Comedy or Tragedy, and I rather prefer laughter to tears. I think we learn more while we are laughing, rather than crying. Crying is an anchor for some very heavy emotions that can’t always be resolved easily, while laughter opens the door to more easily accessible memory. Given the fact that life is that ‘learn as you go proposition,’ I am far more quickly drawn by the lighter side of that equation. I might not always get it, but I still retain the preference.
Back to the movie: I laughed and cried, and not necessarily where it was appropriate to do so, or where it had been planned that an audience of one might or would. I am an individual and I choose my own moments. What is relative to me, might not be to anyone else. And I’m glad that that is so.
Dragons are symbols. For me, they represent that aspect of the human psyche that is most often suppressed, repressed, or becomes what we fear most at the center of our own being. What we hide, most often from ourselves, and want most to destroy. Making friends with that fire-breathing monster, goes against all that we have been taught is right and good. That is what the movie is all about.
It’s title marks it as that manual we would all like to be given at birth. It’s plot concerns finding the right questions that need to be answered. And at it’s core is the story of how learning the language, different from our own and that one that we have been taught, can make all of that possible.
Furthermore, although the animation and the comedy would most logically lead one toward a fairytale ending, with great promises of happily ever after, it doesn’t. The ending circles right back to the beginning, albeit, a new beginning, but only because it is enhanced by a new perspective. A perspective that has been learned because the old one has been unlearned.
Personally, I found the movie more than satisfying. Others might not, but that’s because they need a different manual and I hope they find it. Those of us who keep a journal are actually in the process of writing our own manuals. Seeking, and hopefully finding that one language that will allow us to discover the right questions to be asked.
What’s more, perhaps like the character Hick-up, within the movie, we will also be able to draw out the dragon, find a way to make friends with it, and help it to fly the way it was always intended to do. I don’t think that’s a bad goal, do you?