The wisdom in Monty Python

As a teen in the 80s I used to watch Monty Python a lot with my friends. We would quote it back to each other ad infinitum, and roll round laughing.

The other day, I introduced Theo (11) to the scene in the Holy Grail where the gatekeeper at the abyss asks the knights (on their clip-clop coconut shell horses), three questions.

It came about when Theo started asking a question with “What…” and let it hang there. We spent the following few days cracking ourselves up asking “WHAAAAAT…” at every given opportunity.

But upon reflection, there seems to be a helluva lot of wisdom nonchalantly rolled in to those three questions, indeed in Monty Python full-stop. 

The first question the gatekeeper asked was what… is your name?

Hard to get this one wrong really, but infinitely important. Our name links us to our past, our family, our cultural history. One of the foundations of self-actualisation is knowing and honouring who we are, and where we have come from.

Our perspective at any given moment is the result of every experience we’ve had up to that point. No one else has that story, it is unique. Who I am is captured in my name.

The second question, what… is your quest? is the stickiest one.

It’s the forward-looking what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here question. Truthfully, defining my quest has been more than a little tricky (understatement) over the years, but I think it’s important to know, because it gives life a conscious focus of purpose.

I’ve found it easier to think about it from a different angle: What do I spend my days doing? (parenting and making pots), and how can I do those things in a way that makes them quest-worthy? (with authenticity, love and generosity).  

And lastly, the third question: What… is your favourite colour?

This question is surprisingly easy for me to get wrong (metaphorically). Here is the question about knowing what makes me tick, about honouring my opinion, and valuing my own view. It’s a challenge to go out on a limb and admit that I really do love 1960’s-state-house aqua.

And okay, so a bolt of lightning isn’t going to come out of nowhere and blow us to smithereens if we get the answers wrong (not literally anyway), but I reckon there’s definite value in answering the gatekeeper’s three “What[s]…”. 

It is with that my lieges, that I say go forth now and unearth your favourite Monty Python clip. Take a few minutes to wallow in its infinite, genius wisdom.

Or just roll round laughing for a bit.
(And tell me you didn’t read those questions in the gate-keepers voice).

Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column about life, creativity and the world we live in, written by Taranaki artist Marita Green. You can follow Marita and her creations on Instagram