In our modern world, the mere mention of fairy tales is equated with Disney, Prince Charming and glass slippers. The real history of fairy tales is a ghastly one. The Brothers Grimm from Germany, for example, along with many other authors, included more violence and gruesome details that have been washed away to create sanitized versions for children to enjoy. Did you know that one of the evil step sisters in Cinderella cut parts of her feet off in order to fit into the glass slippers? Or that in the original French version of Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault, the young girl is actually eaten by the wolf, not saved?
I share these examples not to scare you or push you away from enjoying fairy tales, but to help us all recognize that each of these fairy tales that we most likely adored during childhood were mere extended metaphors in hopes of teaching us life lessons – per the examples above, never conform to be someone who you are not and never trust people who have yet to earn your trust. More importantly, such tales are not tales to be taken literally, which causes me to wonder – what was the Prince Charming tale really trying to teach us?
If happily ever after is depicted as finding our metaphorical Prince Charming, perhaps what it literally means is not that we should all aspire to find that one person to complete our lives, but to dare to dream grand, wildly amazing dreams that surpass even our own expectations. A life that is rich with travel and endless new experiences – it can happen. A life lived as a well-paid writer/graphic designer/designer – it can happen. A life that involves owning your own boutique selling beautiful independent designer garments and accessories – it can happen.
Now it is also important to note that fairy tales never exclude the obstacles. There will always be evil step-mothers, the ticking clock at midnight, a queen who wants her competition destroyed. But what fairy tales do remind us is that if we choose wisely, we can overcome.
Today, I’d like to encourage you to adjust your perspective on what a fairy tale looks like. Each of us will have our own fairy tale, in fact, we are living it right now. It is simply a matter of redefining the term “fairy tale”. How we move forward, what we work toward, who we spend our lives with, what challenges we take on and refuse to be defeated by all come together to create our own unique fairy tale. How we choose to look at our lives – as a drudgery or a fantastic experiment of what we can achieve is up to us. The gift of living a fairy tale is that so long as we define it by what we deem to be worth pursuing, what brings us bliss, contentment and fulfillment, we then allow for our lives to be richer than simply chasing one definition of what a fairy tale is. Your Prince Charming may be living your life on your terms, and if that is the case for you, as it is for me, then you’re already living a fairy tale and you may not have realized it until now. Revel in it. And continue to bask in the richness that is indeed an amazing life to be living.
― Neil Gaiman
Have a wonderful first week in February everyone.