Thursday, June 12, 2014

How To Train Your Friendship

Hey friends!

This Friday the sequel to How to Train your Dragon gets a wide release.  I'm pretty excited.  Not gonna lie.  The first movie is one of my favorites.  Last Friday my singles ward actually watched it outside.  I obviously took to revisiting this gem before I see the sequel this Friday.  The theme of friendship really struck me and I just had to share my thoughts.

How to Train your Dragon is the story of the vikings of Berk.  They live on a cold island that is constantly berated by dragons who steal their livestock and burn their buildings.  The vikings pride themselves on killing the creatures and will train youths like Hiccup as part of a viking rite of passage.

Hiccup is eager to please his leader father and the rest of the clan that think of Hiccup as a joke.  Hiccup isn't built like the other beefy vikings and is more of engineer.  Basically, he's a geek in a society of jocks.  Poor kid.  In Hiccup's eagerness to impress everyone he uses one of his inventions to try and capture a dragon.  Lo and behold he's moderately successful and doesn't catch just any dragon but the most dangerous of dragons--the Nightfury.

But because his catch lands in the woods, the town is unimpressed.  Hiccup runs off to find the Nightfury he caught with a dagger in hand.  He stands over the creature ready to kill it but instead sets the creature free.  The Nightfury towers over Hiccup and screams (rightfully ticked off) before unsuccessfully flying off into a gulley.  Hiccup is then confused.  Why didn't the dragon kill him?

Thus begins the journey of two unlikely friends.  Hiccup names the dragon Toothless and offers fish as a peace offering.  Toothless warms up to Hiccup since he brings food.  Hiccup sees that Toothless can't fly out of the gulley because his tail fin was cut off by Hiccup's net.  Using his invention skills, Hiccup creates a prosthetic tail fin for his new friend.  Initially, the tail fin only works for a few feet but won't allow Toothless to navigate in flight.  After some trial and error, Hiccup finally decides to do a test flight as seen below:

This is my favorite scene in the movie.

The funny thing about friendship is that we are all imperfect individuals.  When we come together to try to make any kind of relationship work, we will undoubtedly face our own egos/flaws or the other's.  In fact, we're supposed to.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
 As seen in the scene above, Toothless cannot fly without Hiccup.  Their flight in many ways is a metaphor for friendship.  Hiccup, being of an engineer mind, has a cheat sheet for flying.  For me, I struggled in friendships and found my own cheat sheets in the scriptures, articles, and social observation.  These resources helped me a lot when I was trying to do things right and to be a good friend.

But true friendship isn't born from a book but from trial.  It comes from work and from the heart.  Relying on those "cheat sheets" are definitely okay but they kept me in my head.  If I'm in my head when trial comes up then I'm just out of focus like Hiccup when he loses his cheat sheet.  Both are panicking as they become separated.  Toothless starts spinning out of control and, like a real friend, unintentionally hurts Hiccup.  Friends will hurt one another and like a true friend, Hiccup isn't even phased by it.  Hiccup still comes to the help of his dragon because they can only save their lives together.

Being reunited isn't enough though.  Hiccup can't rely on the cheat sheet like he did before.  In some ways, they just crossed a threshold and the training wheels have come off.  Hiccup glances at the cheat sheet only long enough to choose to let it go.  He makes a shift from his head to his heart.  No more cheat sheets.  Hiccup has to trust his instinct and trust his friend.  Then we see the two gracefully flying in unison dodging obstacles like a dance.  This is when friendships soar--when two individuals come to trust one another and look past their flaws and become one in purpose.
Hiccup loses his leg at the end of the movie and is supported by his friend who lost a fin.

Hiccup's girlfriend Astrid asks him why he didn't kill Toothless.  Hiccup responds,
"I wouldn't kill him because he looked as frightened as I was. I looked at him, and I saw myself."
The gift that we find in true friendship is a mirror of ourselves.  Our friends can correct us just by being there.  True friends make us want to be better and more like our eternal selves.  They will forgive us and we will seek their forgiveness when we've wronged them.  Individually, we are all broken people.  We're all flawed and hurt.  Together, we can be whole and heal.

I'd definitely recommend seeing How to Train Your Dragon if you haven't seen it.  I'm definitely going to try and catch the sequel sometime this weekend.  Cheers!


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