The road to happily-ever-after
Once upon a time. . .
I get ready for a good story whenever I hear those words. Most of us were brought up with fairy tales that began this way. They originally came down through the oral tradition. Eventually, these classic stories were printed in books or produced on the big screen. They have lasted for generations.
Fairy tales have a familiar and stable storytelling format. It goes something like this:
A humble, innocent, and kind-hearted hero—think Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk—have their life complicated by a heinous villain. You remember the evil stepmother and the threatening giant, don’t you? A magical element, like magic beans, a goose that lays golden eggs, or a fairy godmother, are a few examples that guide fairy tale heroes toward their happy endings. Their quest to get there may happen in a cozy cottage in the forest or a gloomy castle on a dark and stormy night. And in the end, the hero has a happy ending, and the reader or listener leaves with a lesson.
Cinderella lives happily ever after with the handsome prince, who symbolizes love. And she leaves us knowing that our happily-ever-after depends on kindness and forgiveness and refusing to let bad things ruin the goodness of our hearts.
Jack’s happily-ever-after is being pulled out of poverty—in both spirit and living conditions. And he has shown the reader that gigantic challenges can be overcome with courage, curiosity, and tenacity.
Listener, do you feel like you’re living a fairy tale right now. How long ago did your once upon a time begin? Has a heinous villain complicated your fairy tale yet? What magic elements are you using or preparing to use to move toward your happy ending? What will your happy ending look like? And what lessons will you share with others about your brave quest that gets you to your happily-ever-after?
Today, revisit some of your favorite fairy tales by reading them again or just recalling them from memory. Realize they are stories about overcoming, healing, and happiness—something we can always use.
Author Neil Gaiman reminds us, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”