Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The old tales

This is about those stories I just can't get out of my head. The old stories, the ones I read as a kid that just linger. Most of these are fairy tales, the old, old stories that contain those basic truth cloaked in not-so-subtle metaphors.

One of those stories was The Enchanted Pig, found in the the Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. The image of the painful, worn-out iron shoes stayed with me for years and it took me an age to track it down as an adult. The heroine's determination and resiliency were a shining light for me. They still are. And she aged - how often do fairy tale princesses age?

Lately the story haunting me is The Giant With No Heart In His Body, a Norwegian tale collected in the works of Abjornsen and Moe. While you can read the story by clicking on the link, let me tell you, the part that haunts me is the betrayal of the giant. He loves her, he tells her his secret, and he is betrayed. I remember as a child, crying for the poor giant who dared to trust and then, quite literally, had his heart broken.

These old stories have stuck around for a reason. We need them, they tell us who we are, offer us guidance in how to live. Sometimes they do this by direct example, as with the Princess in The Enchanted Pig who learns to love what she thought was unlovable, then walks to hell and back to find him again, and other times by helping us see into our own hearts, as I do every time I read The Giant With No Heart In His Body.

Tonight I'm telling the latter story, three different versions interwoven (the old tale, the giant's and the princesses) because I think they all need to be voiced. I need - we all need - to remember the path to the different parts of my complex heart (no more complex than yours) and the old stories show me the way home.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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