There are many memorable screen lines.
What we do in life echoes in eternity – Maximus, from Gladiator
Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’ – Yoda, from Star Wars
I’ve made a huge mistake – G.O.B., from Arrested Development
But the line I find most inspirational, from anything I’ve ever seen on film or TV, is short and prosaic. It’s four words, in fact four syllables. It was spoken by Arya Stark in season 1, episode 4 of Game Of Thrones. You may not even have noticed it amid the rampant incest, attempted pedocide, and egregious killing off of main characters.
I love the line so much I bought a Pop! figure of Arya as a memento, once the show had ended. For a long time she lived in my studio, but now I relocate her every few weeks so she inspires me afresh. Currently she and Needle adorn my ensuite. I’m not sure how she feels about my shower singing, but after all she has endured she deserves better and I shall move her soon.
Ironically for one so steadfast, Pop Arya is unstable and requires Blu Tack to stop her falling over. To stop a toppling Pop. Or perhaps it’s a deliberate design feature, a metaphor for the way life erodes us; after her travails of course Arya would have mental health issues. I mean, most of us do. Most of us need a little Blu Tack.
Anyway, I digress.
My all-time favorite screen quote is:
No, that’s not me.Arya Stark
Why do I love it so? Because this is profound wisdom, to have the world say, be like this, do this, act this way, and to gently respond, I shall not; I’m not like that. To even know where your edges are – what an art. It is the essence of confidence, of self-compassion, of authenticity, of being a healthy human, of relating to others with true honesty. To be so grounded and centered, to be bien dans ta peau. Such an elegant way to live.
This attitude also makes you deeply compassionate toward others. When you see and respect who you are, you can see and respect how others are also who they are. Huh!
Many years and adventures after their separation, Arya is thrilled to encounter her beloved direwolf, Nymeria, and begs her to join the journey back to Winterfell. Nymeria looks lovingly into Arya’s eyes, they hold a gaze, but then Nymeria turns and saunters away. Arya’s response? She grapples with her pain, the rejection. But after a moment… she understands. She realizes how alike they are (you can see and feel the exact moment at 2:49 – and I defy you not to choke up!). No sulking, no accusations of selfishness, no passive-aggressive huffing. She simply concedes the truth aloud: ‘That’s not you’.
When you can say That’s not me, it opens you right up to saying That’s not you. Which is a gift of pure love to those close to you. You deepen your relationship with yourself and with everyone else.
So, that’s my quote. It’s kind of become my life mantra.
I want to know who I am and not let the world tell me otherwise. To speak my truth – though with as much grace and charm as I can muster (and despite limited farm experience, my mustering skills are goodly.)
And I want to genuinely listen when others tell me and show me who they are – and to let them be exactly that.
If you would like to adopt my favorite screen line as yours, you’re welcome to!
If you have your own favorite, I would love to hear it – do please share.
Photo by Amy Shamblen.