Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The True Hero

Given the audience it won't come as a big surprise that one of my favorite movies is The Lord of the Rings trio of movies. I also love any movie Denzel Washington is in because he's just so darn magnetic. Aside from my obvious man-crush, I enjoy movies and stories with great characters.

A debate has raged on in my own mind, a debate that I vocalize with my wife more often than she would like, is 'who is the true hero of Lord of the Rings, Frodo or Sam?'. More importantly, what does this have to do with you or me who play World of Warcraft. Stick around, I'll attempt to make the connection.

To determine who the true hero it has been required of me to not only define the term hero but to further define the words that define hero (I hope that's not too confusing). According to Webster's Dictionary a hero is:

a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage

Wow, neither Frodo nor Samwise fit either A or B from above definition. C is only partial, since they are not men they are clearly Hobbits. So I guess we'll have to go with part of C and all of D to help further the case for one or the other.

Frodo: Did he display courage and noble qualities in his quest to fulfill and achieve his goal?
Samwise: Ditto

They both fit that description, crap! That means that they are equally heroes, and that just can't be. I'll have to throw in my own reasoning at this point. A hero must display this courage and other noble qualities while under the hand of suffering. Who suffered more, Frodo or Sam? Frodo carried the ring for far longer than Sam. It's weight, it's power a constant and unwelcome companion through many trials. For all that Sam did to help lift and support his master to the slopes of Mount Doom, clearly Sam did not suffer as a much as Frodo, which clearly makes Frodo the superior hero.

But wait, define suffering? Does suffering include in it a component of sacrifice? If so then is it not fair to say that Sam, knowing the danger he went into and knowing all that he left behind in the Shire offered up the greater sacrifice? He left a place he loved and a hobbit lady he loved to serve his master whom he also loved to the bitter end. He entered a tower filled with orcs against all judgement, he defended himself and Frodo against the wiles of Gollum to the best of h is ability. And even when Gollum thought he had Sam and Frodo trapped, it was Sam who found a way to defeat Shelob, displaying courage not even the greatest of Elf warriors ever displayed. And when all of his strength had abandoned him and his master, it was Sam who, despite the loss of strength, conjured the will to lift his master onto his back and carry him up the side of Mount Doom. Clearly, does this not indicate a greater sacrifice and overt courage than Frodo? Clearly Sam was the true hero.

At the end, however, what was sacrificed by Frodo if not his whole life and soul. Some say that he was weak and lost to the power of the ring, but I think his display of heroism proved that the most noble and courageous are imperfect. So when he claimed the ring for his own it was the epitomy of his sacrificing his life in his quest to destroy the ring. He lost everything, he always believed he would, and yet he persisted toward his goal. Without a doubt, Frodo was the true hero.

My friends, let us talk shop here. Let us understand each other. We play a game, a fun game, and exciting game, a game with lore, beauty, purpose. We, each of us, can be a hero as great as Frodo or Sam. I'm not talking about giving your life, that would be stupid. What I mean is that the defining characteristic of both of those heroes was they made a choice, a conscience decision to strive to achieve something so many believed to be a hopeless journey. Larisa has suggested, as she did on a comment here, to cut down on blog reading and the such to avoid the negativity that exists from those who have been around for a while and are not as excited as those few who are still fairly new to the game and still enjoy the smallest pleasures.

I understand her now, I get it and it makes sense. Every now and then I may say something ragefilled, but do not construe it as me being fed up with the game and on the verge of a break. I have learned my lesson already, and learned it the hard way. You see, when I first reached 80 I went into a frenzy. For some reason I was always anxious that I was behind the progression curve of every other 80. I was always fighting to gear up and progress up, but my own personality and overly shy attitude often froze me into inaction.

But then I made a choice. I made the choice to remember what I loved about the game, what I enjoyed doing and why I loved it so. That choice saved this game for me, it kept the spark alive. I am a big believer in choice and that only your choices affect your attitude. There may be circumstances outside your control that affect your external life, but you can always choose how you feel about it and how you react to it.

We don't control (directly and absolutely) what changes are made to the game we love. Some changes we like others we don't, but how we react to those changes is up to us. I can't wait until Cataclysm, I think that there are a lot of changes to the world that I will truly enjoy. But until then I've decided to keep on having fun in whatever way I feel like the moment I log in every night. If I feel like leveling a new toon, raiding ICC, trying to get a group to run Naxx or Ulduar, or doing Argent Tournament dailies, or making gold, or taking my 80's into lower level dungeons that I've never seen just to see it I will do it.

I can understand it if people get tired or bored or lethargic, I really do get it. I think it's mostly a natural response when you've been at the same things for years. Luckily I ain't there, I'm here, still considering myself new. And Larisa, I'm still gonna read blogs (but more guarded now). If I see negativity I'm gonna check back another day and see if there's something positive. I don't mind negativity as long as the arguments aren't based on offending rather than working to solve a problem. Still, I rather follow the examples of two of the greatest heroes of fantasy literature, speaking of course of Frodo and Sam, who made a choice that changed their lives and the lives of all those they influenced by their actions. Maybe I can do the same, or Larisa, or you or somebody else in the blogosphere.

Have fun, stay positive, remember those good things that made you love this game in the first place and do them! Be the true hero by your choice!

By the way, the winner was Frodo, but I still love Sam. Not as much as Denzel, but I still love 'em all.

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