Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

Image from Wikipedia.

The past weekend, I spent some time at my sister's house in Ohio. She had happened to rent the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" on my recommendation. I had already watched it four times and was eager to watch it again. Honestly, I had no idea why this movie had such an effect on me. Why in the world was I so drawn to it? Quite frankly, I was embarrassed by my obsession with this movie. So, over the course of the weekend, I watched it three more times. Crazy, I know. Not at all what I normally do.

Then I started thinking about why it had such an impact on me. It wasn't just the dragons, though they are very, very cool, I will admit. It wasn't necessarily the gorgeous animation, which is utterly superb or the haunting celtic music. It was the message. It completely resonated with me.

Without giving away the entire plot, there were actually four important lessons I took away from this movie. The first lesson was to be yourself, no matter what. The boy in the movie, Hiccup, was trying so hard to fit in with the other Vikings, but it was not who he really was. He didn't want to kill dragons. It wasn't he couldn't do it, he realized he wouldn't do it. No matter if the whole town has a different opinion, if you feel deeply about what you believe, stick with it.

The second lesson I learned was that many times people fear what they do not know. In the movie, everyone feared the dragons because they believed they were these evil, hideous creatures that attacked the village. For hundreds of years, that is all they ever knew. "Everything we know about you guys is wrong." lamented Hiccup. And, so it is with nature. People sometimes fear or dislike nature because of a bad experience or the lack of a positive experience. I can completely identify with this.

My arm with a large Bold Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax

I used to be scared of spiders. It took a very patient co-worker at Kings Island Wild Animal Habitat, Marvin Julien, to show me how amazing they really are. He took the time to explain their intricate webs and show me they were something to be respected, but not feared. Now, I can even hold them. And, when I think about the kids I come across each summer, many of them start camp afraid of snakes and bugs. I hope we have changed a few opinions over the years. I hope we have changed opinions by patiently letting the nervous nine-year old hold a snake. Or encouraging the six year old girl that has caught her first giant grasshopper. Lack of experience can also cause an opinion of disinterest. I have a birder friend who spent most of his life as a banker. He had no real interest in nature. Now, after he retired, he cannot get enough of it. Sharing nature with others is so very important.

The third lesson I took away was one of patience. This theme was interlaced throughout the whole movie. The boy had to be patient with the dragon and build trust. He had to be patient with the whole town that had an opinion of dragons that was ingrained in their psyche for decades. He couldn't just tell them what he knew, he had to show them. Many times we can talk until we are blue in the face, but to be patient with others and take the time to show them what you know will be what makes the difference. I know I am so very, very grateful to all my mentors that have taken the time to show me what they know, so I can share it with others. And, on the flip side, I am grateful for all the people that have allowed me to share with them. Being there the moment a person experiences something for the first time is priceless.

And lastly, one person is all it takes to make a difference. Yes, it may seem like what you are doing does not have an impact. It may seem like you have hit a dead end and no one cares to listen to you. It only took Hiccup's stubborness to impact the whole town in a positive way. Who knows how your contributions will affect others? Do what you love, do it well and others will surely benefit.


Anonymous said...

Thanks--those are all good reminders!

Eva Lyford said...

A lovely movie, I saw it myself recently also. And your essay based on it is superb as well.

frogdawn said...

Awesome post! I love that movie :)

Linsi Latimer said...

well now I'm going to have to see that movie! I remember when you showed me how awesome spiders were and now I try to show my kindergarteners! The spider-loving cycle continues!