I’ve just finished reading the Song of the Lioness quartet, a series of books about a girl who struggles to become a knight and the journeys that follow. Alanna, the main character in the series, shows incredible drive and discipline as she at first hides her gender and then has to learn to accept who she is, growing into herself over the course of the four books. She is honorable and honest, even as a child; aside from disguising her sex she is truthful, self-aware and noble from an early age. As I turn the last page and close the final book, I can’t help but feel empowered and changed.
Growing up, I struggled with maintaining my identity in a world where people deemed me to be an outcast. Buried in a book, wandering some imaginary land, using any passage to escape the sometimes complete Hell that was my home life, I struggled to love myself and accept love from others. I matured fully before my time but in some ways have never truly grown up, the child that was stifled by hardcore issues at home, clinical depression and well, nerdy introversion at school is finally coming out to breathe and have fun.
Alanna the knight- known by her war-name as the Lioness- pledged fealty to the King and her land, never causing harm if it could be avoided but fighting for the greater good: protecting those in need and fulfilling her duties as steward of the land. My loyalties lie not with one man or country but with the moral high road. It is my duty to use the gifts and strengths I have been given, however you wish to list or define them, to make the world a better place in whatever way I can. This isn’t a fantasy land, but there is plenty of healing to do and change that must be made. Today, as I drove home with two freshly-rescued guinea pigs in the back of my car I imagined myself to be a modern day knight-errant and grinned to myself, feeling stronger just visualizing it. It sounds silly, maybe, or overly self-confident but I will carry this image with me knowing it will help me get through the darkest of times and remind me to do what is right for others, always. It took a while to get here, but I am proud of my actions and the person I am.
I cherish an essay that was given to me by a coworker many years ago when I was the manager at the local Humane Society; a place that I eventually left on bad terms after making one of the biggest mistakes in my life. The essay was a school project for a high school senior that I worked with and was titled “The Makings of a Knight.” The students had to draw from a story/book they’d had to read and identify the qualities that knights possess and then had to write the essay pointing out someone in his or her life that possessed those qualities. She chose me. The two page writing painted an image of myself I’d never have imagined, though after a few readings I started to cast off humility and believe the words. I still have it and keep it in a folder in my rescue filing drawer so that I come across it sometimes when I’m working. When she presented me with the essay and even now, if I should come across it and read the words, I have to sit down. I guess even knights get weak in the knees.