It starts with five simple words:


And then it comes. The music builds. Lightning from the sky strikes the man with the upraised sword. Does it hurt him? Just listen to what he says next:


You remember. Electric bolts of pure energy crackle around his muscled body. Hands that can punch through solid steel grip the sword that transformed the bumbling prince into the most powerful man in the universe. You remember the way it felt to grab hold of a plastic sword or a stick or even empty air and say those same words: I have the power.

We all want the power. But the world seems to be short on magic swords these days. Believe me, I've checked. (You think I'd be writing this if I had a magic sword? No way. I'd be out battling shadow beasts and seven-headed monsters, saving nubile red-haired maidens from guys with skulls for faces.)

So what do we do? Well, I suppose you can grow a mustache and build weapons devices and adopt an orphan who grows up to be captain of the guards. But let's face it. Not everyone can grow mustaches. And even if you can, do you really want to? Basically the only people who can have mustaches without looking silly are those who've always had mustaches. (Having a mustache attached to a beard doesn't count, by the way. It's still just a beard. That's a whole other story.) It's something set from the time of adolescence, something you have to choose. Either you're a mustache guy or you're not. Once you've decided, it's locked in. (It works both ways, too. Suddenly you shave off your mustache and bam! You've got a lip coming from nowhere. Scary.)

Okay. You don't have a magic sword, or a mustache, or skill with weapons or space technology in a barbarian sorcery world. You can't be He-Man or Man-At-Arms. I'll assume that, like me, if you can't do any of the above, you also cannot fly, ram into buildings with your head, or transform into a mystical falcon. Is this reason to despair? Will your life be meaningless from now on?

The answer to all of these questions is: NO! You can have the power without the magic sword. No, I don't mean you'll be able to pick up Castle Grayskull and throw it into the air using your bulging muscles. I'm talking about the real power that He-Man wields. His morality.

Fast forward to the end of the show. The battle with Skeletor was fought and won. Old skullface runs off, shaking his hands in the air, vowing eternal revenge. Like we're scared. Next time we'll just beat him again. No matter who he brings along! (By the way, who has a skull instead of a face? How can he even see without eyeballs?) After all that the show should be over, right?

Wrong! Now comes the most important part. The moral.

You've heard the expression, "the moral of the story." No doubt your 11th grade English teacher had you combing all the pages from "Call me Ishmael" to "Finis" so you could explain, in your own words, just what Moby Dick really meant. He-Man would never lead you on such a pointless chase. At the end of every single episode, He-Man (or one of his faithful and heroic friends) tells you plainly and simply what you should know about how to live a good and happy life. That knowledge, my friends, is real power. With it you can master the universe. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Sword and the Scientist

Not every one has a magic sword. Duncan, also known as (The) Man-At-Arms, the faithful soldier and weapons technician for the king (as well as keeper of He-Man’s secret and adoptive father to Teila) has no magic powers. He has only his courage and his wits.

Let’s review his mental prowess. He once built a robot of He-Man. From scratch. This robot was as strong as He-Man. (He was later subverted by Skeletor and, much later, his skin was turned blue. Don’t ask why.) Now why Man-At-Arms didn’t build an army of these robots is beyond me. But the point is, he could have. He-Man was able to defeat the robot. But how about a hundred of them? Not likely.

Or how about the time he devised a machine capable of transforming rock into fertile soil? Talk about the millions that would bring in, not to mention all the food that it would create. He-Man, for all his brute strength, couldn’t squeeze food from a stone. Duncan can.

Given a choice between He-Man’s magic sword and Duncan’s technical prowess, I’d choose the latter. Heck, with such know-how I could build a magic sword. I could build ten of them! The point is, don’t go moping about wishing you had things you don’t. Try figuring out how to get them. Make a plan. Think. And, while you’re at it, focus on the thing everyone of us has: a brain.

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