Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Happily Ever After?
One day, the girl met a boy. He seemed to be her perfect match. The two fell in love and decided to get married. On the eve of their wedding, the girl was visited by her fairy godmother and given three gifts. The girl was living a fairy tale and truly believed that all her dreams were coming true.
The first gift was the gift of beauty. It was a transient gift, lasting but one day. Without hesitation, the girl choose her wedding day for that magical gift. From the moment she walked down the aisle to meet her groom until the second she fell asleep that night, the girl was able to see her beauty reflected in the eyes of those around her. For that fleeting moment, the girl experienced what it was to be more than ordinary. It was a gift she would never forget.
The second gift was happiness. There didn't seem to be any limits placed on this gift. The simple contentment that had been a constant in the girl's life was replaced by joy. The girl could not imagine that it was possible for her life to be any better. The girl embraced this gift and was truly happy.
The final gift was a magic mirror. The fairy godmother told the girl that this was a very special gift. The girl could choose anything from the past, present or future, and for the rest of her life, whenever she looked, that is what the mirror would show. But she could only choose once. There was no changing the magic once it was set.
The girl thought long and hard. Should she have the mirror show her moment of beauty so that she would be able to remember it in detail her whole life? Should it show this moment she fell in love with the boy? What single moment of her life would she most want to see whenever she looked for the rest of her life?
After much thought, the girl decided what she wanted to see in the magic mirror. She said the magic words and she wished that she could see her happily ever after. And so it appeared. The girl could look in the mirror any time she wanted and see the happiness that that would be hers for the rest of her life.
Years passed and the girl remained happy. She and the boy were madly in love. They worked hard together and built a wonderful life. They had two amazingly beautiful children. The girl rarely looked at the magic mirror, because she had no trouble seeing her happily ever after, even without the mirror's help.
After many years, the girl and the boy were still in love, but sometimes they would have days that weren't as happy. There would be stress. There would be frustration They would disagree. But through it all, the girl never lost site of her happily ever after in the magic mirror, so she never worried.
Then one day, the unforeseeable happened. The girl found out that the boy was in love with someone else. He was with her in their home, but his heart was with another. There was a woman who was less ordinary, whose beauty wasn't transient, who made him feel things that he didn't feel with the girl. The girl was distraught. How could this be? She was supposed to be living her fairy tale life.
She quickly ran to the mirror for reassurance, but to her dismay the picture reflecting back at her was cloudy, and she could barely make out her own face. Her hands began to tremble and the mirror slipped through her fingers. It landed on the floor with a tremendous boom, shattering into hundreds of pieces.
Both the girl and the boy were devastated. It seemed that in a single day, they had lost everything. The boy realized that his happily ever after was intertwined with the girl's, and therefore his hopes had shattered as well. But as they bent to clean up the pieces of their shattered life, they noticed something. Even shattered apart, most of the pieces of the mirror were still showing images. Many were hazy, but they could clearly make out the faces of her children. As they tried to fit some of the broken pieces together, the pictures became more clear, and they realized they were still together in her happily ever after, the pictures were just more distorted and harder to see.
The boy said goodbye to his new love and again tried to focus on the girl. He promised her that they would rebuild their life and that his heart would never leave her again. The girl began the painstaking job of fitting the mirror back together. The pieces were sharp and would often cut her hands as she worked to fit them together. Days became weeks, and weeks became months, but slowly the mirror was pieced back together. Finally, the girl looked down one day and realized she had glued the final shard of glass back into her magic mirror.
When she looked at it, there were cracks and divots, and some of the glass was no longer reflective. But once again she could see her happily ever after. The girl was overjoyed. The boy seemed truly happy as well, and the two celebrated.
But not long after, the boy started to seem less happy as he once was. He began to see once again how plain the girl was. He worked hard to surround himself with people who were less ordinary. The girl worried, but wanted the boy to be happy.
When it became obvious that the boy was once again enamored by a woman more extraordinary, the girl didn't know what to do. She was afraid to gaze into the magic mirror. What would she do if the picture of her happily ever after was now gone for good? The girl took her magical gift and sent it far away to be hidden before she could give in to the temptation to look.
The girl did everything in her power to become what the boy was looking for in others. She locked away the plain, boring essence of herself and tried to be more interesting. The gave up many of her simple pleasures and worked to be more exciting. For a time, it seemed to work. The girl felt happy, the boy seemed happy, and it felt like they may have found a new road to their happily ever after.
But alas, it was not to be. The girl could not maintain her new persona. She was destined to be forever ordinary. The boy was deeply disappointed, and the girl was sad that she could not be all that the boy desired.
But in the midst of this sorrow, the girl suddenly thought of her fairy godmother and the gifts she had bestowed. The beauty had been used up, and lived only as a happy memory. The magic mirror was damaged, and the girl had not the courage to find it for fear of what it might show. Both the past and the future were out of her control.
But one gift remained. The gift of happiness. This had been bestowed on the girl with no limits. No one could take this from the girl. It was hers to possess for all time. She just had to allow herself to hold on to it.
Shockingly, the girl discovered how hard that was to do. If she wanted her arms free to grasp her happiness, she would have to let go of the fear that had become her constant companion. She would have to let go of the insecurity that she had wrapped around herself like a cocoon.
If she could stop living her life in pursuit of happily ever after, she could live her life happily right now.
So what's a girl to do?