*The Poison Pie Column*

A Fortress…better torn down

Written By: 戴梦 Martina

Genghis Khan said “walls make man weak.” He thought that living as nomads, as gypsies and as homeless warrior tribes made man strong. Keeping war close, while keeping peace and routine far away from the restless and weary soldiers who craved its bosom shores wrought strength. Walls meant safety. Walls meant laziness.  Walls meant a false sense of security. In the end…walls don’t keep enemies out. Warriors do.

We may not build real stone fortresses for ourselves in the 21st century. Our walls are walls of the mind; ideas make us weak, secrets hold us back, misconceptions lure us into that false sense of security. Lies. Images. Stories. Quick ones, slow seeping ones and long eternal foes…

As a teacher in China, my favorite classes also loved me. Except one. One group of kids hated my guts. Those smart asses tore me to shreds like Cinderella’s Stepsisters. Every. Single. Day. And they tore down my walls. They tore down my special wall of Sweetness. It was a lie anyways, a pretense to make others comfortable. I am still actually so sweet. But only to those whom I love, not to people who deserve to see another side of me…

I’ve chosen four famous characters that live unapologetically and bravely. In their own way they’ve each disregarded all thoughts making them weak. They live far from the bosom shores of complacency; they live without walls.

 Cersei Lannister

As war rages above her, she sits with a glass of wine, deep in thCersei-Baratheon-on-Iron-Throne-cersei-lannister-29371373-1280-720e hold of Casterly Rock. “Why do you think I keep a knight here Sansa?” she asks.  Sansa shakes her head, she can’t say why. Cersei coolly replies, “If we lose, I’m ordering all our heads to be cut off. That way we can’t be delivered to the enemy. Not properly anyways.” Sansa nods, her thoughts about Cersei have been affirmed. Fearless and completely messed up, this evil queen masterminds countless schemes of ill-will via manipulation. Her strength: acceptance. She accepts her duties, she accepts her sex, she accepts the worst and she accepts death. She laughs at frivolous thoughts of hope and romance, not needing their comfort. She can handle the truth just fine.

Brienne of Tarth





More like a man, this knight upholds dignity, duty and loyalty above glory, pleasure and even happiness. Her homely features make her an easy target for men and women to mock her. But she can’t hear their mockery, not above her own internal drum of goodness, skill and power. A fierce warrior, Brienne kills all in her path in the name of…somebody. That’s the catch. She always has to be fighting for someone. And she always knows exactly where she stands, and to whom she’s loyal. When Jaime Lannister mocks her, she deflects his cunning remarks not by wit but by knowing herself and where her true loyalties lie. Her strength: Self-respect. She never sells herself. She never stoops to the level others would drag her. She never steps away from the morals she knows to be true. She’s sold a thousand threats, a thousand names, a thousand insults a day. But she only buys what she sells herself.

Arya Stark





Just a little girl, she’s told how small she is every day, all day. She’s lost, alone, separated from her family, a stowaway dressed as a boy. She saw her father die and she knows exactly who to punish for it. Arya has a whole list of those who need to be punished. She says their names before she goes to sleep; the thought of their demise calms her. Realistically a hopeless case, she manages to somehow change her fate simply by having an unrealistic and disproportionate sense of destiny. Her strength: Delusion. Arya has absolutely nothing to build walls with. And her field’s so empty she’s invented the strength and courage she needs. She’s a Princess. According to Arya, everyone is making really big mistakes; except her.


Angelina-Jolie-as-Maleficent     Once a beautiful fairy, Maleficent fell in love with a human. One day that human betrayed her. Things got scary. Green magic. Curses. Black this, black that, black everything. Vexation, wrath and telekinetic power. As a sweet fairy she guarded the woodlands peacefully. But as a fallen fairy, she ruled both kingdoms mercilessly, feared and hunted throughout the land as the darkest villain. Once she let go of her love for Stefan, she was free from of all that made her weak. Her strength: Letting go. She let go of romance. Let go of true love. She let go of all those expectations that once made her so vulnerable.


True happiness, like what FindingFelicity is all about, sometimes doesn’t look like a smiling face. Sometimes happiness looks like standing up for yourself, like letting go of thoughts that make you weak. Sometimes happiness looks like self-respect and courageous acceptance, and giving away your secrets.

Sometimes FindingFelicity often looks like finding a backbone.

‘Till next time. Second star to the right and straight on till morning…

** {ahem}

Spoiler Alert. To be fair:

Although Maleficent’s vengeance indeed unleashes her great power, her love for Aurora makes her even stronger.
Even though Cersei’s callous heart makes her indestructibly evil, her motherly love makes her truly fierce.
Even though Brienne’s loyalty lifts her above the crowd, her love for Jaime Lannister gives passion and power to her inherent goodness. And Arya, though she’s determined to make it on her own, the thoughts of her beloved family keep her holding on.


Well well. Looks like it’s happily ever-after, after all.

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