“If we accept the reality that life is difficult, demanding and often painful, then the day-to-day living of it is no longer so onerous. In accepting life as it really is, we transcend it. Or, as they say on Wall Street, ‘The market has already discounted the bad news.’”
— Robert White
As a kid, you probably grew up reading fairy tales. You know the ones where the prince finds the princess and brings her to life with a kiss, or the rags to riches story where everything is difficult before it magically gets better. Those stories were beautiful. So beautiful and heart-warming, in fact, that we aim to read them to our children too. We’ll take them to the movies to see the big screen bring it to life for them as well. And when we take them back home, our little girls will imagine themselves to be princesses and our boys will dream of being a hero.
But the thing about fairy tales is just that — it’s a tale. It’s not in the least bit real or likely to happen in our modern world. I’m sorry, but you can expect no such stories or magic in this life. There are no fairy tales or magical endings that just so happen as a result of fate or chance. Life is hard — very hard. We’d all like to spend our days waltzing through tulips or sitting peacefully behind white picket fences in a safe community free from terror, suffering, heartbreak, and war.
I interned at a daycare center when I was in college. And yes, I read fairy tales during story time and the girls particularly loved to hear them over and over. But what I discovered is so obvious that it isn’t really a profound discovery. Little children, unlike adults, are carefree, unworried, and unbothered by life and its false starts and bad breaks. It isn’t even in their heads to see things as they are; their view of the whole world, especially of their own world is more beautiful. They love easily and get over hurt feelings with a kiss and a hug.
It’s like us, however, not to want to ruin a child’s perfect world. But if I had the guts to do so and if they’d really understand me, I would’ve told them that the world beyond their beautiful four walls is not a fairy tale. Everything outside of the brilliant pages in that fairy tale I just read to you is hard-core, brutal, cold reality. Other than the occasional celebration and accomplishment, it will be nothing like you expect, or hope, or dream that it would be.
Since I can’t give this message to those little kids, I will pass it on to you. One night you will go to bed with brilliant plans for the next day. Little do you know that the next day will be wrought with its own plans and will be more difficult than you ever planned for it to be. You will meet who you think is Mr. Right and he will break your heart. You’ll meet who you think is Ms. Perfect and she won’t be all she’s cracked up to be. You’ll get your dream job and get into your dream school, but it won’t be easy.
Life will break you. Life will humble you. Life will help you weigh all the possibilities and opportunities that it brings to you under the guise of ‘This might not be possible’ but ‘This isn’t over just yet.’ The interior journey of each person’s life from the image in our minds is to make good on the investment of reality. Events in life are specifically designed to bring out the truth about each of our lives so that we can transcend our customary lifestyles by not becoming victims to it, and achieve a connection that is both mutual and beneficial between us and reality.
Just because life is hard, doesn’t mean you have permission to give up. Whatever you’re fighting against won’t be easy. Whatever you’re fighting for won’t be easy either. But one day you will wake up and realize the battle you’ve been fighting was real and for your good. It made you stronger. You can read about a fairy tale, but you can’t live one. The only thing you can live is real life. And whatever it brings with it is for you to pick up and make something good out of it.
At some point, the fairy tale you’re trying to live will be too difficult to keep up that you will eventually turn to face your life as it really is. Just because it is a certain way doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. When you are armed with truth, you can change any part of your life — even the bad stuff. To embrace reality, you have to be certain not to become the victim of a fairy tale. And to not become its victim, you must live in deep contemplation and even deeper hard work of a reality that could very well be the future you imagine.
Sorry, there are no fairy tales here, but there is reality. And reality is all we really need.
“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.”