“When you’re nothing a’tall you can’t be afraid of anything.”

– Samwell Tarly

Game of Thrones

Season 4 Episode 9 – 20:54


I have finally caved to an insistent friend who keeps swearing up and down that I would like Game of Thrones. I have started the series at the beginning of the week and am muddling through doing my best to watch this show from their perspective. The show has it’s good points and I do find it humorous on the overall. The interactions of each of the Five Kings fighting for a chair made of swords seems more about a popularity contest than a true fight for power. And unbeknownst to them the last of the Targaryens is winning that battle across the sea because she found someone to fight for. I even admire Tyrion who does his best for his family despite all of them being shits. And yet despite all of this intrigue I am captivated by the words of a fat bastard stationed at The Wall. “When you’re nothing a’tall you can’t be afraid of anything,” Samwell Tarly, GOT (2014).


This quote hit me hard because I thought it was a state of mind martial arts instructors try to drill into their students. A state of non being in which there is no fear only movement. Students would drill for hours so that everything became a fluid movement and they didn’t have to think about that at all. I realized that this wasn’t a state of non being because you are supposed to be present in the moment. You just can’t be thinking about your moves before you make them because then you’d lose the fight. So I was initially wrong about my assessment of non being and non thinking.


It took me a while to realize that the part I agreed with was being nothing at all. It was how I got through my childhood. You see I was raised in the projects of El Paso, Texas among a bunch of people who didn’t speak the same language as me most of the time. I stood out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair and white skin in my neighborhood. So naturally I was bullied for being different. Luckily my father taught me to read before I even started school so when the bullying started I found an escape in books. I read everything that I could get my hands on and I didn’t have to deal with anyone around me. Eventually I started to become whatever book I read giving me an inconsistent personality and making me even weirder to my peers feeding into the bullying in it’s own way. Hearing Sam say those words at that moment on the wall I realized that there was more than one way to be ‘nothing a’tall’. I became nothing in my books so that I wasn’t afraid of the people around me.


I have long since changed the habit of hiding in books by expressing myself in writing. It was in starting this blog at the suggestion of another friend of mine that I found a voice of my own so that I could be me. Samwell Tarly is right that there is no reason to be afraid if you are nothing but that isn’t living either. Watching Game of Thrones has been tedious for me but it has shown me that the world isn’t exactly how I’ve always viewed either.


“The Watchers On The Wall”, Game of Thrones, HBO, 06/08/2014; S4, Ep9, 20:54