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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Red Knight

Remember Robin Williams in The Fisher King?

"Robin Williams portrays Parry, a former professor of medieval history, who lives in a remarkable world of his own creation in order to insulate himself from a tragedy in his past. "

William's character survives a tragedy so horrible that in order to survive, his mind has created a construct of unreal proportions that help him to not bring the actual event back into his conscious mind. When events occur that begin to bring him in touch with that tragedy; he becomes haunted and terrified by the vision of the "Red Knight" which is really the embodiment of his character's pain. The movie shows this horrible beast galloping towards him, nostrils flared, dust billowing. Terrifying.

It amazes me how the mind and body co-conspire to protect one another and enable survival. When something is unbearable, our minds and bodies communicate in their own language, and come up with a way to help each other out.

I have a Red Knight.
It roars up behind me;and I feel its hot breath on me. My body instinctively tightens into its flight or fight response.

Behind the thunder of those mighty hooves are pictures of other things; the hot breath of something else. Equally intimidating. At least as frightening.

And as my mind re-routes to it's favoured coping mechanisms, I am dimly aware of its processes. The hooves thundering in my ears, and dust rising to my own flared nostrils, it becomes painfully difficult to become still enough to simply be aware. To trust that the Knight will thunder by without shattering me in its pathway. To risk that whatever follows this manifestation of horrer will not be bigger and more ravaging than the Knight himself.

The Knight himself is here to protect me from what lays beyond.
So we duck into doorways, we three. My body, my mind, and some other third part that watches from above. For moments at a time we can see the pictures clearly. Then the Knight scares the ever living heck out of us, and we split off into our roles once again.

Insulated, Surviving.


Anonymous said...

love you, Joyce. You are in my thoughts.

Roo said...


Anonymous said...

Wow! You are brilliant and way more than only "dimly aware of its processes". My verification word is bilev, which dyslexically makes me want to think "believe" as my message to you, and prompts me to speak here and yet, Soon...
Vanilla Bean

joyce said...

thank you, brave ones.
I appreciate what you say here, bean.

Valerie Ruth said...

it is amazing. our bodies and minds really do try to protect us. and as kids who can't cope it's helpful. but then we turn into adults and those coping mechanisms aren't always as functional. i have a red knight too.