It’s been difficult finding reason to smile the past two weeks. I caught up with an old friend this weekend, and he said that he doesn’t watch HBO’s Last Week Tonight even though he thinks host John Oliver is funny and brilliant. He said, “There’s nothing funny about the state of the country right now,” and he’s right. I’m finding it more and more difficult to laugh at the absurdity of the day-to-day machinations of our government and all the reminders that no matter how much we like to think we’ve evolved, we really haven’t. I think Google News, with its sophisticated algorithms, was able to read my growing disillusionment and eroding faith in our country’s institutions and decided to throw me a bone … er, a sword.
This past July, an 8-year-old Swedish-American girl named Saga was doing little kid things in Lake Vidöstern near her family’s summer house in south Sweden (must be nice!). Somewhere in the lake’s floor, she made an amazing discovery: an ancient sword, remarkably preserved considering its age.
There’s so much awesome involved here. Firstly, the girl’s name is Saga. SAGA!!! Her name literally means epic. I don’t know much about her parents (other than being very envious of them for having a summer home in Sweden), but as far as baby names go, they really fucking nailed it. It’s just so metal, you know? So, not only is that cool on its own, now add to it that someone named Saga hoisted an ancient sword out of a lake … in freakin’ Sweden no less. A dungeon master couldn’t devise a better backdrop for his/her D&D campaign.
The second layer of fuck-yeah to this story is what Saga did when she found the sword. According to her dad’s Facebook post, she held the sword over her head and exclaimed, “Daddy I found a sword!”
This tugged on the few heartstrings I have left. I imagined to myself how I would react if I were to have a daughter and she said the same thing to me. I’d probably make a big scene. I’d get down on my knees and open my hands to the heavens and bellow things like, “The prophecies have been fulfilled!” and, “It is now up to you to unite the kingdoms and slay the wicked!” and, “The Ancient Gods have spoken!”
I guess it’s probably a good thing I don’t have children.
The reason why this story is just getting around now is because the family kept it a secret at the behest of the Jönköpings Läns Museum, who feared that if word got out that the lake was filled with ancient swords, treasure hunters might have raided the area of its further historic artifacts. The museum has made a couple other passes of Lake Vidöstern and found a fibula that dated back to 300 or 400 A.D. The sword, which is estimated at around 1,500 years old, was found complete with a scabbard made of leather and wood. Saga’s family stayed true to their word and kept their find quiet until recently when they were given the OK, which is also kind of neat. HONOR BEFITTING OF A TRUE KNIGHT.
Sorry, but it’s just so cool.
I know there are way more important things going on right now in the world at large. We’ve suffered through a vicious and divisive news cycle in a series of vicious and divisive news cycles. It feels as though our democracy, which seemed unflappable, is slipping further and further away. I know stories like these are just distractions, that maybe I should have utilized this space to rail about my feelings on the Kavanaugh hearings and how he was forced through to the Supreme Court despite legitimate concerns about his background, character and temperament. I was going to, but I thought, “what’s the point?” Maybe that’s a cop-out. But reading stuff like Saga’s story reminds me that, sure, the world at large sucks, but there’s plenty of reasons to make sure it doesn’t go entirely to shit.
It’s neat that there are still lakes that hold ancient swords and that young girls with awesome names find them and hoist them triumphantly over their heads. It’s neat that something so old, despite all the odds, was so strong that it survived the ravages of time and the harshness of the elements. There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere, but even if there isn’t, old swords are metal as fuck. Rock on, Saga. \m/
**This column originally appeared in print on page 26 of issue #276 (Oct. 10 – 24, 2018)**