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

Sorcery and Self-Pity

Orco gets a pretty hard time. On his own planet he is given the appellation “the Great” because of his mighty magical powers. On Eternia he is little more than the court jester. All because the laws of sorcery operate differently on the two different worlds. Specifically, the laws work backwards.

Still, Orco doesn’t mope and complain about it. “Why oh why don’t my powers work as well here on Eternia? Pity me! Pity me!” You don’t hear such things from him. (At least not much.) Although he has several vices (occasional slothfulness and gluttony, to name two), self-pity doesn’t seem to be one of them. Instead he keeps trying to improve his magic, much to Man-At-Arm’s dismay – since Man-At-Arms usually experiences the less ‘expected’ side effects of Orco’s magic. (Given how often Man-At-Arms lectures Orco, I’m not sure this is entirely an accident.)

Sometimes it’s hard not to complain when things don’t go our way, especially when we are trying hard to do something. We want to call life “unfair.” But fairness, as a concept, only applies to thinking beings, like humans and cyclopses (cyclopsi?) and Trallans (Orco’s people). It doesn’t apply to things like disease, hurricanes, or gravity. Unless those things were caused by Skeletor. And believe me, at one time or another, they were caused by Skeletor. Man, he does a lot of unfair things. Just thinking about his bony face screwed up in laughter and gloating makes me so mad! Easy, easy. One battle at a time.

Anyways, things happen that we don’t like. Sitting around complaining about it doesn’t usually make things any better. Making a plan and making an effort often do. It doesn’t always work – just ask Man-At-Arms. But it’s a whole lot better than crying on your bed, feeling sorry for yourself. Okay, crying on your bed in self-pity can be pretty satisfying. But the world will still suck when you finally get up.

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