Happy Endings in Real Time
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know one of my favorite movies of all time is Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon. And it usually pops up at least once a year on my blog. So here we are, revisiting it again. Because as I watched it again at the start of this new year, I noticed something new, yet another reason I love this story.
In the movie, Hiccup is the only one not strong enough to fight and kill dragons. And when he's offered a chance to learn to fight, he discovers he's the only one not interested in it. Made worse by the fact that he's the chief's son. Throw the dragon he's secretly training in the woods into the mix, and you've got quite the storm brewing.
Maybe you can look at Hiccup’s character and relate a lot. Maybe you’re the odd one out, too, both of you desperately trying to be capable and failing miserably as far as you can tell. Maybe you’re made fun of and talked over the top of. Maybe no one knows what you’re really thinking until you erupt.
And once we relate to someone, we get the chance to see ourselves in their story. Which, in turn, casts a whole new light on ours.
So as Hiccup becomes more confident—stands for what’s right, stops apologizing for all of himself, and does things his unique way, the way he was meant to do them—we feel that maybe we can, too.
Better, we begin to know we can.
Deep down, we wish for happy endings like the ones in movies.
We wish the people who underestimated us would apologize. We wish our time in the positive spotlight might come. We wish someone would give us the chance to speak up.
We want them to celebrate us, to accept who we are.
But Stoick never fully got Hiccup, did he? The second movie is proof of that. While he may have been more open to learning, the fact of the matter is that he still clung to his pre-formed ideas of what his son should be.
How to Train Your Dragon doesn’t have a happy ending because Hiccup became what the villagers expected. It doesn’t have a happy ending because everyone accepted Hiccup at last.
It has a happy ending because Hiccup accepted himself.
He just decided to be all of him, to help others do the same, and to surround himself with people who do the same.
At the end of the day, How to Train Your Dragon is still just a movie. Just a movie that nods to something very real.
But in real time, we have something far better. We know that everything about us—personality, likes and dislikes, appearance, passions—was hand-crafted by God. Hand-crafted for a purpose that only we can fill. Hand-crafted perfectly.
And our happy ending begins not when everyone else understands that, but when we do. When we decide to live that truth regardless of what anyone else thinks.
What if we all gave it a try this new year? To be authentically ourselves? To like what we like and not apologize? To follow the leads God gives us? To stop thinking about what the others will think?
To just be.
What might that look like for you? What part of yourself do you try to fix or hide for others? What are you most excited to authentically be this year? Share your adventures in the comments below!
Last month, I discussed one of my all-time favorite movies, How to Train Your Dragon. And it just wouldn’t be complete without discussing its sequel as well!
So, a quick warning before we jump in—if you are planning to see this movie or care if you ever see it, DO NOT READ THIS POST. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one of those movies that cannot be discussed without spoilers, and believe you me, you do not want this movie spoiled.
Moving on . . .
Heading into How to Train Your Dragon 2, I was most worried about the character personalities. I’d seen enough graphics from the movie to know they’d updated how each character looked. Great. So now Hiccup will be older and more mature and everything will make sense and he’ll just breeze through life without a care in the world like how many other sequels. Yippee.
Yeah, that’s not what happened.
Sure, Hiccup and his dad, Stoick, have made up a little bit. But they sure don’t understand each other. Stoick is determined that Hiccup will become the next chief. And Hiccup is just not so really very extra sure he wants to . . . or, more accurately, that he’s ready to.
But things like life rarely wait for us to be ready. (I mean, really, does he ever just have a normal date with Astrid?) Hiccup stumbles upon a group of dragon trappers who warn him of a coming threat—Drago, the alleged dragon master.
Hiccup believes he can change Drago’s mind, despite Stoick’s warnings and the fact that Hiccup has only known he existed for about five minutes now. “This is what I’m good at,” he insists moments before he and Toothless sneak off—okay, there was no sneaking, it was very obvious that he was leaving—of the barricaded island.
And just before he’s kidnapped by a vigilante dragon lady who is actually his mother.
Valka has at least one notable mistake in her past—namely, leaving Hiccup. She genuinely believed that leaving was the safest thing she could do for him—after all, she wasn’t like all the other Vikings and believed they could make peace with the dragons. What if one did attack and she couldn’t bring herself to kill it? But she’s on a mission now to do her best to fix what she broke.
What really struck me is how Valka just is. She apologized for the hurt she caused, she made it right, but she never apologized for who she was. She’s just herself—in the very best way she knows how.
Meanwhile, Hiccup clings desperately to his hope of changing Drago’s mind, the only thing he thinks he can do. A hope that leaves him stranded in the heat of battle when Drago takes over Toothless’ mind and sends him to kill Hiccup.
When Stoick takes the fatal blow to save Hiccup.
(YEAH, SO I WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS MOVIE.)
At his dad’s funeral, after he’s shot the flaming arrow to burn his father’s ship, Hiccup stands on the beach with all his friends behind him. All waiting to hear what he has to say. What the plan is to get their dragons back. To save their island.
(Better yet, watch the scene here. It's a hard scene to describe. Or if you don't feel like being emotionally pulverized, just read my description below.)
And all he can say is, “I’m sorry, Dad.”
The silence stretches on a minute, before he adds, “I’m not the chief you wanted to be. I’m not the peacekeeper I thought I was. I don’t know . . .”
Valka steps forward and lays a hand on Hiccup’s shoulder. “You came early into this world. Such a wee thing. So frail, so fragile. I feared you wouldn’t make it. But your father, he never doubted. He always said you’d become the strongest of them all. And he was right. You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon. Only you can bring our worlds together. That is who you are, son.”
That is who you are.
Training dragons, changing people’s minds about them, the only things he thought he was good at, that was what Hiccup did. Not who he was.
Hiccup stares into the growing flames. He confesses, “I was so afraid of becoming my dad. Mostly because I thought I never could. How do you become someone that great, that brave, that selfless? I guess you can only try.”
So he just is who he is. And that is what helps him win back Toothless, defeat Drago, and save his village.
Hiccup was so caught up in what he did that he lost sight of who he was.
Sometimes we do the same thing.
“I play this sport.”
“I write this type of story.”
“This is my career.”
“I have been hurt in this way.”
All of those things shape who we are. But they do not define who we are.
Like Hiccup, we sometimes look to those who we view as chiefs in our lives. We worry how we can ever be as much as they are. It terrifies us, really.
But it’s not about becoming them. It’s about becoming us.
Who are you, really? When everything else is stripped away, what is still in your heart?
That is who you are—who God has made you to be. All you can do is try. And together, He and you will do amazing things.
*Have you seen How to Train Your Dragon 2? What did you think? What are the things closest to your heart? Share your adventures in the comments below!*
Take It From The Dragons
I promise I do not think constantly about movies during family devotions. Just remember that fact.
I don’t know about anyone else here, but I love How to Train Your Dragon. The characters, the story, the visuals, the soundtrack. It was one of the first movies a friend loaned us in a quarantine survival package last year, and I immediately got lost in the story. Still do.
Back to family devotions. But they say to love God with all your mind, and well, my mind thinks about stories. A lot.
So we read 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.”
And my brain went, “It’s just like How to Train Your Dragon!”
Alright, I’ll explain. Spoilers abound for the movie, though, so tread carefully!
How to Train Your Dragon opens with an intense dragon battle. Dragons spitting fire everywhere, Vikings swinging war hammers, and a whole lot of shouting.
And in the thick of it is a teenage Viking named Hiccup, sticking out like the hidden object on a “What doesn’t belong?” activity page. All he wants is to kill a dragon and impress his father, Stoick, who also happens to be the village chief. And if he could impress his pretty blond classmate, Astrid, who’s working the fire brigade over there, he wouldn’t be mad about that, either.
Only one problem--nothing about Hiccup is wired to kill a dragon. He's lucky to get from point a to point b without tripping over his own feet. Which is why he's kept hidden away in the blacksmith shop more often than not.
Wonder of wonders, Hiccup manages to trap a dragon with his (not so) trusty homemade net-slinging invention. Not only does he catch a dragon, but he catches a Night Fury, the rarest of all dragons. He also gets chased by a dragon, has to have his dad save him, and burns half the village down.
But does anyone believe him? Nope. Because, well, Hiccup’s tried this sort of thing before. With little success.
So the only logical thing for Hiccup to do is to find his dragon himself and kill it. Then those other Vikings will have no choice but to believe him and accept him as one of them.
Sure enough, he finds his dragon. He rips out his knife and holds it over the beast’s heart.
But then, well, the big, black scaly dragon opens it eyes, looks at him, and whimpers.
And then . . . Hiccup just can’t kill it.
For some reason, he follows the dragon. And then he comes back again. And then he comes back again with fish. And then he comes back again with a new tail fin—after all, he was the one who shot the poor guy down, it's the least he could do. And then he comes back with a saddle.
He dubs the beast Toothless, and the two get to understanding each other quite well. In fact, what Toothless teaches Hiccup about dragons makes Hiccup quite popular in dragon fighting class as well. Even Astrid has to admit it’s pretty cool.
There is, however, that pesky problem of Hiccup having to kill a dragon for his final test in class.
Or does he? I mean, if he could just train the dragon instead . . .
Dad, however, is not impressed when Hiccup tries out his new found dragon training skills in the arena during his test. And he’s definitely not impressed when his new pal comes to save Hiccup when his attempts fall flat. In fact, the only idea he can conceive for what to do with Toothless is to use him to find the dragon nest and destroy it (which Stoick is a little obsessed with). “You’re not a Viking,” he says. “You’re not my son.”
And as Hiccup watches the ships sail away—taking both his dad and Toothless with them—he wonders, “Why couldn’t I have killed that dragon when I found it in the woods?”
“The rest of us would have done it,” ever-helpful Astrid points out. “So why didn’t you?”
To everyone else, the idea of training dragons was foolish. After all, it’d never been done.
To everyone else, Hiccup seemed weak—fumbling everything and barely able to lift an axe.
Even to himself, Hiccup didn’t seem noble. All he wanted was to be like everyone else.
But he wasn’t like everyone else. As Astrid pointed out, he was the first Viking to ever ride a dragon. The first Viking to even try.
The first to throw down his helmet, toss aside his knife, and reach his hand out to a dragon.
And if he hadn’t, if he’d gone on trying to be everyone else, he never would have saved his village from a threat they couldn’t even imagine yet. He never would have changed centuries’ worth of thinking.
He would have never become who he was meant to be.
You may feel weak, foolish, or less than noble. But take it from the dragons—if so, you might just be who God has in mind to change the world.
See? Just like How to Train Your Dragon.
*Have you seen How to Train Your Dragon? What did you think? Share your adventures in the comments!*
So, yeah, I have way too many How to Train Your Dragon graphics that I like. So I just chose two for your enjoyment.
It's All You
"Stop being all of you."
That line comes from How to Train Your Dragon, a movie I had the pleasure of seeing for the first time last month. The movie centers around a teenage Viking named Hiccup (don't look at me, I didn't name him) who desperately wants to kill a dragon to please his father. The only problem is, Hiccup's not really wired for dragon killing. He's more wired for building dragon snares that never work and getting into scrapes that his father then has to pull him out of.
After one such mishap with a dragon snare, his mentor and employer looks at him in a rare moment of exasperation. "If you ever want to get out there and fight dragons, then you'll have to stop all this."
"You just pointed to all of me," Hiccup points out.
"That's it. Stop being all of you."
Hiccup laughs it off. But when his next attempt to fell a dragon results in burning down several buildings, losing the village's food supply to the dragons, and a major scolding from dad, his mentor changes his tune.
"The point is, you've got to stop trying to be someone you're not."
Hiccup stares at him in complete bewilderment.
But as the movie goes on, he discovers he's wired for something else--dragon training. As in training dragons. Literally. I won't ruin the whole movie for you, but he never would have discovered that ability had he kept pretending he was a dragon killer.
Like just about any other book or movie I come in contact with, it got me thinking.
Sometimes, writing or otherwise, there's a lot of pressure to not be all of us. Maybe we don't write in a genre that's super popular right now. Maybe our stories are very different from even the stories we love to read. Maybe the themes we write about aren't ones people seem to want to hear or even care about.
Wouldn't it be so much easier to just switch genres? Write what's selling right now? Write what people want to hear?
I vividly remember the keynote session from the second writing conference I ever attended (when I had slightly more of a clue as to what I was doing . . . I at least knew what genre I liked writing). The title of the session was "If John Had Not Written." The speaker donned a shawl (at least, it looked like a shawl, not sure what they called those in the apostle John's time) and acted the role of the apostle John.
His fictitious version of John was looking at all the other Gospels that had been written--Matthew, Mark, Luke. "What do I have to give?" he wondered. "Hasn't it all been written before? What's the use?"
The speaker removed the shawl for a moment. "If John had not written," he pointed out, "we would have never known about the wedding in Cana, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus' prayer for his disciples." Think about how much we would have missed!
The speaker continued, "What is the world going to miss if you don't write your story?"
What is the world going to miss if you don't write your story? If you don't be all of you?
Because in one way or another, we are all given a message to share. It's our choice whether we will be ourselves--all of ourselves.
But to change would be to not be all of me. All of who God wired me to be.
I mean, think about it. If every letter in the alphabet were exactly the same, we wouldn't have words, or sentences, or stories.
There is a perfect spot for all of you. That's because you were designed to fit a perfect spot, and a perfect spot was designed to fit you. Even if it feels like you're just building dragon snare after dragon snare with no progress. There is a dragon out there that is yours, and only yours, to train.
So go be all of you. Don't hold back. And go train your dragon.
*What's a dragon you're trying to train right now? (Metaphorically speaking, of course, although if you have a real one, I would very much like to know.) What have you been wired for? Share your adventures in the comments!*
Hi, I'm Rachel! I'm the author of the posts here at ProseWorthy. Thanks for stopping by!