Valknut: Odin, work, and limits

The Valknut, the tree hangers sign, the nine worlds bound in a single will, the storm given shape, madness given form; the sign of the Victory Father, the Battle Glad, yet also the All Wise, the Wise Counsellor.

I can do reason, and most understand that I reason well, but to me it is a tool to use in its place, not a holy thing that must always be heeded.  Reason knows limits, reason needs information to act.  Reason is a thing of time, good lighting, sufficient information, and plans.  Reason in its place is king.  Behind the king stands a shadow, the shadow of madness.  In the darkness, in the fog, in confusion and fear it dances laughing and roaring in turns, always whirling never stopping.  At the heart of the storm it knows no hesitation, no regret, no remorse.  This is Odin’s place, the place where instinct growls in the dark, the place where inspiration lances forth like lightning to tear holes in the dark with flashes that reach were reason won’t at speeds that reason can’t.

I came back from my stroke to a work that had turned quietly into a shambles as trouble left unshot bred trolls, that left unshot bred dragons.  Reason makes me a great trouble shooter, and I am good enough at the top of my game to shoot troll if I have to.  I come back to troll and dragon level problems, and orders to “take it easy” and “watch my limits”.  For days I do this, and direct those people who let trouble  of theirs create trouble for others to the tasks they should have done without my direction.  Trouble, defended by trolls, defeats them; and the dragon is approaching the deadline with a will and determination that the deadline should do the moving.

I live under the valknut.  I do not fail.  You can kill me, I am no where near what I once was after all, but you cannot stop me if I choose not to be stopped.  There are limits to what you can do, there are limits my weakness has imposed on what I may do.  It would be utterly insane to ignore them.  Most civilians would agree.  I am not always sane.  Sometimes I call out to him, to the Victory Father, to the Battle Glad, and set my will upon the world to pledge a thing will be done, and make it so.

My arm is in a sling now, for it cannot support its own weight, but today I handled things many times my own (quite considerable) body weight as if they were nothing, because compared to the will to conquer they are nothing.  My leg is trembling so bad that I cannot trust the knee when I walk now, but I strode from plant to plant today, frequently with a drive shaft over my shoulder, smashing trolls that could not be shot, and crushing troubles that weren’t worth the trouble to shoot, then leaving inspired and focused co-workers to finish that element of the problem that they now accepted as beatable.  I accepted no limits, I laughed easily and often, for my will was all consuming, my joy flowed equally from the struggle and from its victories.  This was madness, and I carried it with me, and carried others along with me.

By the end of the day, we had gone from not possible to meet our deadline to two weeks ahead of schedule.  The other military man I work with was so fired up by a whole day of the whole plant, engineers included, working with the fury and focus of field soldiers (in his case ship sailors) that he declared that “If we just hired one or two more military, we could fix this whole (insert the verb form of mother Frigga’s favourite sport) company!”

Valknut; symbol of the Victory Father, giver of both wisdom and madness, of cold logic and berserker rage.  Each is his gift, because both are required.  I live under the valknut.  I spent days of half life, doing a half job, and hating myself.  That was the safe thing, the rational thing.  Today I embraced his gifts, laughed at all limits and dared to find joy.  Today was not about a company’s needs, although those got met to the point that fearful mutterings in board rooms turned to cheerful optimism.  Today was not about ego; to make success happen is not something you can do alone, rather by your example and inspiration lead others to exceed their understanding of their limits.  Today was about ecstasy.

Ecstasy; the transforming madness, the pure undiluted joy of being, of hurling every ounce of your will, your creativity, your arrogance, your power into the maelstrom in utter confidence that you will achieve your ends, but not really caring.  Woden’s lesson, it doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail at your task, it matters that you give yourself to it utterly.  You will not accept anything less than victory, but not because you care about the victory itself, but rather because you will not yield to any limitation, internal or external.  Leave it all upon the field.  Give yourself utterly, and fall back laughing.

The joy of the struggle, the joy of every victory, or every revealed new challenge is renewing, energizing, and inspiring.  Those around and under me react to this inspiration and find themselves pushing beyond what they “can do” and much beyond what they “owe work”.  It is not about the paycheque, or some devotion to a corporation that would write us all off in a heartbeat if they got a tax break to build elsewhere, it is about the lesson of the valknut, about giving yourself to the passion to do a thing regaurdless of the cost simply because you chose to carve your vision from the world’s howling flanks.

Come to the Battle Glad, come to one-eye.  Embrace the madness, the arrogance, the simple joy of being utterly true to yourself.  Step out of shelter and into the storm, we have cookies 😉

John T MainerImage


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