Thursday, January 14, 2010

History is a Fairy Tale

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about our plight here on this planet. So many people walking around lost and wounded, with no sense of the beauty and incredible richness that surrounds them called “life.” This was the reason I felt so stirred to abandon every day life in a search for something more – because I was lost, wandering the streets of Manhattan in a zombie-like work-a-day way. Melancholy, disconnected, trapped…. hopeless. And the worst part is, where there is hope, where there is help, we turn our faces away. This hope is in understanding our stories.

“Fairy tales” are at the very root of our lives and yet we constantly dismiss them. When our children come to us wide-eyed and wild we tell them “it’s only a story.” We dismiss writers imaginings as “fiction,” we relegate our magic, mystery, and sense of incredible possibility to the nursery where it becomes outgrown, abandoned. We tell our friends that for them, anything is possible, and yet we fail to believe it for ourselves. We forget that in reality, the story of human existence is nothing but a story – a fairy tale all its own.

Human history.

The stories of what has happened in our span of existence on the historic record are so commonplace, so deeply ingrained in our every day consciousness that we no longer see them for what they are.
We have princesses and queens: Diana, Grace Kelly, Cleopatra, and Boudiccea. We have our magicians and our wizards too, in Galileo, DaVinci, Magellan, and as scholars are uncovering, the not-so-mythical Merlin. We have our villains, too – so many they clog the history books: Nero, Pol Pot, Attila the Hun, Genghis Kahn, Hitler, Stalin, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, the list goes on. We have our heroes: Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Rob Roy, Harriet Tubman, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Sitting Bull, Theodore Roosevelt.

When we begin to read and study our history books, we learn that human kind is capable of the most beautiful creations, the most compassionate tenderness, and the most horrible atrocities – acts of violence so dark that they would be banned even from any director’s cut, boycotted by readers or movie-goers. And it is these conflicting forces that are nothing less than the genetic code for the fantasy stories we learn about as children.

When you look at our human story and understand the impact of this, the line between fiction and non-fiction will blur. Everything is informed by our reality. Nobody is writing in a vacuum – it’s impossible. We are working with the human brain, and all we know is our own story.

But the value comes truly, when we can step beyond our daily lives and gain the ability to see things in this light. What we tell we remember. What we don’t tell is lost. And somewhere in the middle, where these two things meet, is the truth of what our world really was, the truth of what really took place -- it begins to make you realize that we have the power to change our story.

When you can see our existence in this light, you begin to realize that out of any storybook we’ve ever read, truly our own lives can be the most spectacular fairytale of all.

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