Like the wedding of Charles and Diana, William and Catherine’s wedding has been referred to, over and over again, as a “fairy tale.” Most of us are guilty of using commonly repeated words or phrases, such as “fairy tale,” without really thinking about what they mean. But just a short mental reconnaissance through our beloved childhood “fairy tales” reminds us that every story from this genre features a scary villain: the sharp-toothed wolf dressed as the trusted grandmother; the evil stepmother with the blood-red nails; the bitter old crone whose poison needle puts the beautiful princess to sleep for 100 years. Consider myths like Beowulf. Beowulf is nothing without Grendel. Actually, Beowulf is nothing without Grendel’s mother. Because killing Grendel doesn’t solve Beowulf’s problem. Killing Grendel teaches Beowulf the very painful lesson that what you thought you had to conquer was only the first step, and your real quest is to confront the way scarier thing waiting for you just around the corner (or at the bottom of the lake, in this case). This quest is what fairy tales are really about.
Category Archives: love
I got up at 3:15AM on April 29th, 2011 to watch the Royal Wedding. I did it partly because I had gotten up super-early to watch Charles and Di’s glorious but ill-fated affair, which was like a true fairly tale for the adolescent I was then.
But this time around, as a full-grown woman, I appreciated it much more, not because of the over the top (hats) pomp and circumstance, or the chance to see Elton John and his partner in full morning dress, and especially not to see Victoria Beckham, who looked like a big snot-nose, as if she was there on sufferance.
No, I’m so happy that I got to watch the ceremony because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have heard the homily, delivered by the Bishop of London Richard Chartres. Aside from the homily delivered at my own wedding, this was the most beautiful wedding homily I’ve ever heard. Gabe, who’s 5, liked the fighter jet flyover the most. As for me, it was the homily (reprinted below), and it even included poetry!
Some things make me embarrassed to be human: pet clothes boutiques, deep fried Twinkies on a stick, and having spent my spring break at a place where there was a Beef Jerky Outlet. I don’t like to be confronted with things that shamelessly celebrate our most basic (basest?) desires and our insistence on indulging them. I at least like to think of myself as restrained, tasteful. But I’ve learned that when things outside me are irritating, I should probably look inside at whatever is getting its feathers ruffled. And though beef jerky, even deep fried and on sale, wouldn’t tempt me, many other insta-indulgences would.
It is such a good thing that people lie to you when you have very young children, and you ask them if it ever gets easier and they say “Yes!” Because if they told the truth, your own and possibly your offspring’s chances of surviving the first 5 years of their lives would decrease significantly. I don’t know why people lie to parents of small children about this. It might be because the horrible physical demands of early parenting do easy up (sleep deprivation, carrying loads of crap everywhere, existing in a constant state of muscle-twitching vigilance, etc.) , and you don’t really have to deal with vomit or snot or feces as much with a teenager as you do with an under-3. Of course, if you did, you’ve really got a completely different set of issues. No, I think the reason people perpetuate the myth that parenting gets easier is because the reality would just be too much to take on board for at least the first 10 years. And the reality is that with each year of your child’s life that passes, you lose less and less control. So whereas at first your main job is to keep another human alive, when every atom of your body is dedicated to this 24/7/365 to infinity, eventually you just become obsolete. Except no one remembers to tell your heart this.
On this beautiful sunny midwest morning (hey, do I sound like I’m from California??), I had the joy of speaking about therapeutic writing to a group of folks at Generations of Hope, a very cool multi-generational community. At Generations of Hope,”children adopted from foster care find permanent and loving homes, as well as grandparents, playmates and an entire neighborhood designed to help them grow up in a secure and nurturing environment.” This morning at Hope Meadows, we talked about writing, about how it needs compassion about self-permission in order to thrive. Going through the world with an open and watchful heart really helps too. And then they asked me the question everyone asks about ongoing writing which is, “How do I find time to do it?” Here is the secret to answering this question…
Hello everyone! Well, this makes me sound like Out of Africa’s Karen Blixen (“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills…”), but nevertheless: I’ve been on a ranch in Malibu, at the foot of the Santa Monica mountains. Yes indeed–I got a free pass on 5 weeks of Illinois winter this year and it was exquisite. Looking out my window right now, it’s gray and bare, but that’s okay, because if I close my eyes I can see mountain trails lined with rosemary and eucalyptus, magical waterfalls and fragrant bay leaf trees, and the tidal pools of Matador Beach, dotted with sea urchins that close like tiny fists around your finger if you touch them. If we instituted a mandatory month in southern California every February, the world would be a much happier place, I feel sure.
Events that seem to be surrounded by expectation confuse me, and trigger that fear that I am a few steps off from everyone else. Not a truthful fear, but a common fear nonetheless, and one the world does little to soothe for any of us. New Year’s Eve is one of those events for me, for a variety of reasons. One is that the only thing that has ever made me willing to stay awake until midnight was childbirth.
Also, social events that last many, many hours, like New Year’s Eve gatherings, are just too much human contact for me. If you are invited to something that starts at 7:00, you’ve got at least 5 and a 1/2 hours to get through, and I can count on 3 fingers the number of people who I could bear to spend that much uninterrupted time with. But I think it’s the resolution issue that confuses me the most: to resolve or not to resolve, that is the question.