Embracing the Fairytale

I won’t be Rapunzel sitting in a tower,

staring out the window and dreaming of the hour

I’ll be free from my gilded cage.

I’ll rewrite the story. I will turn the page.

I’ll be the Little Mermaid stretching out my hand,

reaching toward the surface and dreaming of dry land.

I’ll be Cinderella going to the ball,

escaping from the everyday and standing there in awe.

Part of that world, more than a dream,

more than a life of espressos and cream.

Somewhere, somehow,

I’ll live the life I’m merely dreaming of now.

Faith, hope and trust, second star to the right,

straight on ’til morning, I’ll fly through the night.

Fairytale endings, dreams coming true,

and I’m lost in wonder – glorious wonder –

experiencing the mundane with You.

The Purpose of a Fairytale

You may have heard the quote: “Disney gave me unrealistic expectations of men.” I’m not sure who invented that statement, but I have to question their accuracy. We have a tendency to blame fairytales for our distorted views of what love should look like, but you never see anyone blaming Disney for making us believe that animals can talk. You never hear anyone complaining, “Oh man, and I really thought last night would be the night Peter Pan showed up at my window.” And when’s the last time you tried to kiss a frog?

Let’s face it, we’re not really expecting to take a bite of a poisoned apple and wait for our Prince to come wake us from a comatose state. No one really expects that to happen. So why are we blaming Snow White for our troubles? Sounds to me like she had it a lot worse than I do.

Fairytales weren’t written to give you a distorted view of romance; they were written to instill hope in the hearts of those who want to give up on living. Prince Charming aside, fairytales are all about chasing your dreams and finding the courage to step into the unknown. That’s the true romance and adventure of a fairytale.

Though many of us still love fairytales to this day, we started watching them as small children – back in our “boys are icky” days. I know that I, personally, did not watch Cinderella for the wedding scene at the end, but for the music and the mice and the adventure that led up to that fateful moment at the ball. When she met Prince Charming, I wasn’t sighing because it was romantic, I was shouting, “Take that, you evil stepsisters!” That was Cinderella’s real victory. She lived as a sweet-hearted servant until she finally rose to the princess position that she deserved.

So stop blaming Disney for your broken dreams, and read the rest of the story. There’s so much more to life than finding Prince Charming. Happily ever after is the end of the story… Try living once upon a time.

They Lived

Yesterday, I had one of those days. You know, the kind of day where you fume about  stupid stuff and think things like, “I’m not going to get married for the next hundred bajillion years because I don’t even want to deal with this junk.” It took moving 450 miles away from home for me to realize that guy/girl friendships are difficult to come by. I don’t know if that fact makes me want to hug my old guy friends and apologize for all the years I’ve taken them for granted, or slap them in the face and yell at them for making me believe that our relationships were normal. I think what I felt yesterday was a combination of the two. I could have walked right up to one of them and shouted, “Thanks for being amazing, jerk.”

Well, I did what any girl would do in such a situation. I grabbed a bowl of chocolate ice cream and popped Ever After into the VCR. By the time it was over, I felt a whole lot better about the topic of men and marriage. What I love best about that particular version of Cinderella is that the characters have flaws. Prince Henry was selfish, arrogant, didn’t listen very well, and acted like a jerk when he learned the truth (to which he had previously refused to listen). And Danielle weaved a web of horrible lies then tried to keep the pretense going. What makes the story so enchanting is that they manage to overcome their flaws and find a happy ending. I’ve been told that chick-flicks are not good for a girl’s emotional health, but I needed that movie last night. I don’t think it’s bad to hold out for “Prince Henry” – as long as you’re willing to accept that he does have flaws.

The movie comes to a conclusion with this beautiful line: “And while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.” They lived. And while those words were said to convey the idea that Cinderella was more than just a folk tale, I think that line carries a much greater meaning. Take Prince Henry’s line, for example: “You swim alone, climb rocks, rescue servants… Is there anything you don’t do?”

The character of Danielle De Barbarac did not only live “happily ever after,” but “once upon a time.” She embraced the moments and lived the journey. She may be a fictional character, but she’s still a great reminder that we weren’t meant to live for the “happily ever after.” We were made for the “once upon a time.” “Happily ever after” means that the story is over. No more adventures. No more life. One day, I hope I’ll make it to “happily ever after,” but as for today, I simply want to live.

Bippity, Boppity, Boo

When I say the word “fairytale,” what story pops into your mind? For me, it’s Cinderella. I think that one is the most epic fairytale of all time. There’s just something about that girl who rises from servitude to royalty because of one glorious night at the ball. And we all know where that moment of magic began…

Follow me to a scene in the Walt Disney movie, Cinderella. Her dress has been torn, her dreams have been crushed. We find her sobbing in the garden when her fairy godmother appears. With a few encouraging words, a cheerful tune, and a wave of a wand, Cinderella’s entire world is transformed. For Cinderella, this was the beginning of her happily ever after, and the start of a brand new once-upon-a-time. For the rest of us, it began the fairy godmother fallacy.   

“Where’s my fairy godmother? Wouldn’t it be great if some lady with a wand would come out of the woodwork and help me out a little?” This question is pondered by fairytale characters too.  Have you ever watched the musical Once Upon a Mattress? Princess Winifred stews over the idea of living “happily, happily, happily ever after” while exclaiming that Cinderella had outside help and Snow White had “practically a legion” of dwarves. I think we can all relate with Princess Winifred when she sings, “I wish that happily ever after would happen to me.”  

I just want to take a minute to point out that Cinderella wasn’t looking for her fairy godmother; she was sobbing over a pile of broken dreams. The fairy godmother appeared when the timing was right. Likewise, you don’t have to search for happily ever after. When the timing is right, and only when the timing is right, your dream of Prince Charming will be realized.

It probably won’t come in the form of a fairy godmother, but the fairy godmother from the story is nothing but a personification of a turning in Cinderella’s life. Perhaps it won’t be that blatantly obvious that this is the start of happily ever after, but that point in your life will come nonetheless.

You don’t have to look for it, and you don’t have to spend your life trying to find Prince Charming. When the timing is right, it will suddenly become perfectly clear that happily ever after is happening to you.