Nordic mythology is the home of Fenrir, a ferocious wolf, the son of Loki and Angrboda. Despite his ferocity, Fenrir was good-natured, but the other gods feared his might.
They presented a great chain called Laeding to the wolf, challenging him to prove his strength by breaking it. With little effort, he did. The gods then forged a new chain, Droma, a marvel of blacksmithing. Fenrir again shattered it without effort.
Terrified of the wolf’s strength, the gods commissioned dwarves to forge a better chain. Instead, the dwarves created a thin rope from the spittle of birds, beard of a woman, a bear's anguish, the roots of a mountain, murmurings of fish, and the footfalls of a cat. Gleipnir, they called it, and it only became stronger the more one tested it.
And so Fenrir was subdued. Not with chain and iron, but a slender rope made of impossible things. Now this story usually discusses mythology, wolves, gods, justice and such, but let’s focus on the chains themselves.
The very word conjures images of iron, prisons, and slavery. That’s what the gods attempted first, but the approach failed without a whisper. Undeterred, the gods tried again, doubling down on what didn’t work, only to fail again.
This smacks of how we deal with life. We try something that doesn’t work, then double down on it, hoping that more of the same will change the outcome.
The dwarves understood chains - and life - differently. Iron can only get you so far, but to fashion something of strength and power, they had to go beyond the immediate. They dug deeper and searched farther until they realized a rope would do, but one imbued with fantastical, unlikely experiences.
It’s the same with life. To get out of an old pickle, an old problem, introduce new experiences. For the dwarves, this meant spittle, murmurs, anguish, footfalls, beards, and roots.
What does it mean for you?
Was what happened to Fenrir justified?
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