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Monday, December 24, 2007

So many fairy tales

December is time for fairy tales when different worlds briefly align.

We made it to Ireland, seizure free, with the prerequisite hassle that only seems worth it once you get here and see the faces of those you love emerging out of the beautiful Irish mist. Ellie is taking her usual 1pm nap on Dave in the living room by the light of her auntie's tree. And so we begin the slow transition to Irish time that includes being awake while others sleep. But this post is not about that. It's about fairy tales.

I read recently that Einstein said that if you want your kid to be creative, have them read fairy tales and read some more fairy tales.

When I was little my mom, a librarian and teacher, would bring me and my two sisters to the library a couple times a week. I loved our library. It was made of a yellow gold brick and was shaped a bit like a castle. The children's room was a huge circular room. And it had a book shelf that went around the wall and half way up with a bench right at the bottom and the top was lined with these huge arched windows. The ceiling was a high dome that reflected the light softly down onto the circular rug below. It was a beautiful room. A cathedral to the imagination. My sisters and I would take out stacks and stacks of books. In fact they created a book limit because of us. 21. That was how many books each of us could take out at one time. My mother was a wonder of organization to not have had to mortgage the house on late fees.

The other thing I loved about this library is that they had an unending supply of fairy tale books. There was a slew of them named after all the colors on the spectrum each filled with loads of tales, The Red Book of Fairy Tales, The Blue Book of Fairy Tales, The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, and so on. These books had no pictures, not even on the cover. I made my way through all the colors - probably over 50 or so each 2 inches thick. I loved them. Tales of princesses who discover secret underground worlds where they have to cross great watery underground lakes on boats propelled by swans to escape a horrible fate laid upon them by their father king. The ever present struggle for freedom and identity and love. All so romantic and colorful and alive in my mind to this day. Danger was there too, always. Elements of realism woven into beautiful tapestries that included trees made of crystal and fairies who flew on gossamer wings. I could feel the mist on my face of enchanted oceans and taste the dew of deep green forests and the coolness of wind on the gray stone of castle towers.

Today I got to watch a fairy tale, Stardust, on the plane. It was wonderful. I understand all the fuss. I have been working my way through the entire of the Harry Potter books because now that I know the ending it all looks different. Dave got me the Golden Compass trilogy for Christmas and I can't wait to dig in.

So what has this lifelong obsession with fairy tales done for me? Well besides leading to some great paintings of trees made of crystal they have allowed me to create my own world with a little more flare and creativity than if I had not read them. When I read them they put me in a different space. It reminds me that I am more than my present situation. More than my body and mind - that I have this essence that is just as beautiful as those enchanted worlds only a book could immerse me in. After that type of immersion I think differently. I see things, every day ordinary things differently. There seems to be more light in the air and more oxygen too. And I have answers to my problems and challenges I didn't have before the immersion into something that is other.

I believe we can create our world anew each day by making different choices and using our creativity to bring in more love to whatever situation we are in. It's not looking at the glass half full or half empty - it's more than that. It's literally working with the raw material of our world - the good the bad the difficult the wonderful and weaving a beautiful tapestry that tells our tale as best we can. Fairy tales have made me a better weaver. One who doesn't just see the limits and takes a certain relish in the aliveness that is found in the really tough challenges.

Ellie, with her love of all things imaginative including inanimate objects that suddenly do extraordinary things, caterpillars that turn into butterflies, and all things beautiful is her mother's daughter and a child of mist and fog.