The Shackled King

Good evening ladies and gentlemen

I’ve often wandered where my thoughts come from. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about my thoughts you could say, confused by them, endlessly seeking clarity, endlessly seeking peace from all the noise. What does it mean to be free from it all? Is it possible to be free of it all- to be the king of the world? Or are we just animals, sat in cages, waiting for the allotted slot we’ve been given to go out and get some exercise, maybe go for a run, to get put back inside once again, sweating with temporary relief, almost feeling like a king once again.

These thoughts about being a king, about taking “extreme ownership” as Jocko WIllnik puts it got me thinking about zoos and safari parks and more specifically about the lion and his pride.

The lion, out on the African Savannah is a king. Stand up for those behind him and against anyone who dares disrespect him. He lies in the shade, surveying his kingdom, the territory he controls and anyone who dares cross his path without his permission. He is a patient leader, willing and ready to pick the opportune moment to hunt, to strike, to overcome. He will look to extend his territory even, as he works to continue the royal blood line.

This is what we believe and perceive a lion to be. A king, rivalled but defeated by nobody and nothing. Always ready to put it all on the line for his cause. Then, to see that same king in an enclosure, or worse in a cage. I don’t write this for an environmental purpose but what does that do to a mind- even of an animal? Fed on a schedule, given a territory vastly smaller to the one his kind usually rule. In a box, regular food, no need to hunt. No need to dominate, nothing to protect, nobody coming for your kingdom.

I’m not sure that’s even a lion anymore. Just a cat. A Shackled King, once on top of the world, now wandering why it’s so cold.

Maybe they don’t know any different, maybe they don’t know that generations ago they were top of the food chain, kings of the savannah.

On top of the world, locked in a cage.

A lion is an animal, and animals require 2 basic things. To eat and to reproduce, passing genes onto the next generation. This, in essence-is their purpose. This is where the lion develops its uniqueness and garners potential for how we could see ourselves as humans, albeit in a world far removed from the territories of the African Savannah.

The mentality is key here, for everything you are and everything you want to be starts in your mind. The mind is the general and the body are the troops and the troops aren’t going to do a dam thing without the general’s instruction. The general is a lion, he has to be. Continue with the army idea, the lion general is going to be respected, mentally sharp, mentally sound in his decision making, so the troops will respect him and the troops will act. Similar to a pride of lions, there’s always a leader.

So why do we struggle so much to break free from it all- why is it sometimes so difficult to see outside the walls of the enclosure?

I think its all about scale- and its where most of us fall down.

Look at the lion, constantly ready to take over. Use UFC fighter Connor McGregor as the perfect example of the lion mentality- “we aren’t here to take part- we are here to take over!” Dr. Jordan Peterson refers to the strong mentality as the idea that you need to be a “monster” even. We are all exposed to so much about how to change your life, how to pull yourself out of a rut and start living your “best life.”

Point is, when you feel trapped, stuck in the same routine, food coming at a certain time, four walls seeming like they’re closing in just like at the zoo, getting out feels a near impossibility.

Exposed to so much content, so many debates and beliefs presented in whatever media streaming format you happen to be looking at telling you what you need to do to turn your life around, the proverbial mountain to get to the apparent levels of people like McGregor make the mountain seem so much bigger, the incline getting steeper and stepper as you go.

The best example of this i’ve been able to find is from the first part of the 20th century and involves Harry Houdini. At the height of his fame he boastfully claimed he could break out of any jail, anywhere in America, with nothing other than his street clothes and an hour. An old jail in the south took him up on the offer and confidently, Houdini swaggered into the cell. Door closed behind him. Houdini, at that point, was the King, confident the enclosure he had been placed in was no match for his kingdom, to be nothing more than another notch on his belt, an extension of his already vast territory.

After 30 minutes and with a steel wire he had hidden in his belt, Houdini had no luck picking the lock. His once confident demeanour, gone. What remained was a sweat bathed nervous man, worried at what his Kingdom had fallen to, these four walls, bested by a simple lock. An hour came and went and after two Houdini collapsed against the door, exhausted and defeated.

As he fell against the door, it swung open. The door had never been locked. The King had not been defeated by a locked door, or by an old prison. He had been defeated by himself, for the need to conquer and frivolously display his skills and intellectual capability had vastly outweighed the simplest method.


Yes you.

I’m talking directly to you now.

That enclosure you find yourself in, the walls you feel are hemming you in, preventing you for being the lion you were always supposed to be, the King of your own life that you are destined to be. Like a lake in a desert, the walls are a mirage, placed there by you. That door was the most complex lock ever designed to Houdini- he could have been there hours and would have never been able to unlock it.

You are the author of your own story, so why not make it a good one? Be patient and understanding with yourself, listen to your mind and to your body. Take breaks where you need to but never give up. Be ready to learn and prepare for stuff to go wrong. It will go wrong along the way, its how you deal with it that’s important. Houdini gained a mark against his name that day, but the humbling he received, the challenge he faced took him somewhere new, somewhere bigger, somewhere better.

A lion doesn’t materialise out of thin air, trust the process, trust in your own growth. Learn from your mistakes and how to do better next time, not problems to linger on but obstacles to overcome. A lion doesn’t lament on losses but works on how to use them, make them part of the overall victory.

You placed the shackles on your wrist because of the quality of your thoughts about yourself. About your mind, your body, your ability to be happy, to be capable, loving and powerful in equal measure.

Control your thoughts, or they will control you.

This is how the shackles are broken.

And the King gets that taste of freedom so badly desired.

Thats how lions are created.

The Shackled King no more.

Yours, with love as always.
D. R x

Free Close-up Photo of Lion's Head Stock Photo