Become A Faceless Man.
Who are you? What are you? Where do you come from, and where are you going?
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan you’ll understand what Valhar morghulis means. For the rest, you’re about to be enlightened.
Let me tell you about a girl.
A girl named Arya Stark from Winterfell. In the hit HBO Series Game of Thrones, based of course off George R. R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, Arya seeks vengeance against all the people who have wronged her and her family.
In her journeys she comes across Jaqen H’ghar, one of the Faceless Men, who has the ability to offer plenty of cryptic wisdom… oh, he can also shift identity and faces, kind of like Nicholas Cage in Face/Off.
Arya tries to become a Faceless Man.
The Faceless Men identify as ‘No one’. They discard their names and titles, their sense of self and every last trace of their identity. They abandon ideas of the individual and become quite monk-like.
Monk-like apart from their bizarre habit of acting as paid hitmen that is.
What are the advantages of becoming a Faceless Man?
What would it mean to truly become no one? To stop promoting ourselves ahead of our companions and neighbours?
To me, there is some appeal in dissolving the ego, to drop the need for self-importance, and to see our lives more objectively as to how they fit in the grand scheme of things.
There is a beauty in that, a self-transcendence, of getting outside of ourselves and seeing more clearly.
How would you see differently, without the need to see yourself as a hero in the story?
Would you now be able to see the roadblocks, emotional and psychological, that have always chained you?
Would you look not to further your position or glory, but to further the cause that affects us all?
Would you stop playing short-term games, and start playing longer, infinite games?
Would you concentrate on opening Doors for others?
When we detach, we see more clearly
How can you drive through the rain, without windscreen wipers?
We cannot stop the rain, but we can manage and navigate it. The reality is that in a few centuries’ time, no one will know your name or mine.
Are you ok with that?
Are you ok with the reality that you are no one?
It’s hardly inspiring writing from my part. But remember, I’m no supercoach. I’ll never ask you ‘what’s the most your life can be?’
My question, sprouting from the Minimum Viable Lifestyle is, ‘what’s the least your life can be?’
In Game of Thrones, when the Faceless Men become ‘No One’, they can wear any mask, change their face, and become anyone.
Maybe that’s what we all need – maybe then we will be able to become the person we should be, and stop trying to be the person we want to be.
So what does Valar morghulis mean?
It means that ‘all men must die’. This thought is at first terrifying, at second, liberating. The term is used amongst select characters within the Game of Thrones universe, often as a greeting.
Puzzling greeting isn’t it? More foreboding than ‘hi, how are you?’. Though what a reminder of the insignificance of our existence. What a constant humbling, a dissolution of the ego, and a call back down to earth – reinforced in every encounter and embraced with warmth.
All men must die.
In High Valerian there is a reply, a recant that is always used in response to valar morghulis: Valar dohaeris.
It means – ‘all men must serve’.
First we understand that ‘all men must die’. Then naturally following on from this we realise that ‘all men must serve’.
The same goes for women too.