Castles, Knights, and The Main Thing

Last weekend my family invented a holiday.

My daughters are very much into baking cakes and decorating said cakes. Which is great for the taste buds but not so much for the waistline. Anyway, their latest creation was in the shape of a castle. So, since we had a festive cake, we needed a festive reason to eat the cake.

Thus, Castle Day was born.

We all got to play our roles all day long, with my wife and I being the King and Queen (duh), our two Princess daughters and of course, the young Squire. It was fun to be able to say stuff like “Daughter, pass the Royal Pancake Syrup”, and “Where is the Royal Remote, good Lady Wife?”, and my favorite, when I came into the kitchen for ye olde Royal Breakfast, “Fol-De-Do-De-Ray-Do-Day, what news does bring this Morrow?”. Stuff like that.

We had a feast for dinner, and ate the castle cake. A royal decree was made that the last Sunday in July should henceforth be known as Castle Day, but we will probably forget. Still, this is the kind of silly thing that families who are all on the same wavelength and love each other very much can do. I am fortunate and blessed to have such a family to call my own.

The other thing we did was to view one of my all time favorite movies, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. This is one of those movies that I can quote forwards and backwards and have seen more times than I can count but yet it never gets old. Fortunately my kids are as warped as I am (almost) and share my sense of humor so it was a good idea that added to the silliness and togetherness of the day.

For those who may not have seen the movie (and why have you not?), it is a very silly yet quite intelligent retelling of the Arthurian legend by the legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python, in which King Arthur gathers together his knights and is given a quest by God himself (in cartoon form, no less) to seek out the last resting place of the Holy Grail, which Jesus drank from during the last supper. The comedy in the movie comes not so much from the religious aspects as it does from sending up the standard stereotypes of medieval life by filling them with modern attitudes and situations.

The bigger source of humor however comes from the quest itself. Here we have Arthur who, despite being King, is just a guy who’s got a job to do. He’s merely trying to go on with his day and find this grail while all these amazingly silly people keep getting in his way and messing the whole thing up. As the viewer, the big laughs come from all these looney characters and the ever crazier circumstances in which Arthur and his “silly English k-nights” find themselves in. But the heart of the film is, of course, Arthur himself and how we can all relate to his predicament.

Because we have all been there. Some days, even the simplest task is seemingly impossible because there’s always someone or something trying to prevent us from doing it. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. The easy and, sadly, often preferred thing to do is to just throw in the towel. But you can’t. Like Arthur couldn’t, because there’s a job to do. Arthur, like all of us, must persevere and see the job through no matter what the result may be.

That’s why the film has lasted in the public consciousness for over 40 years, apart from it being one of the funniest movies ever made, is that it has a lesson. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to, but it does. It teaches us to “keep the main thing the main thing”. That’s a quote from somebody way smarter than me from a book I never read, but it’s become part of the public consciousness so I’m using it here.

If you have a job to do and it’s an important one (especially if it is divinely inspired) see it through. Keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t give up unless there is no other course. Keep hope alive, and keep following your dreams. It’s hard, but ultimately worth it. There are so many ways to be sidetracked and lose focus, but if you keep the main job first in your mind and heart, chances are good it will all work out.

That’s a good lesson to learn. On Castle Day, or any day.

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