I grew up hearing all the traditional fairy tales. Princess in distress awaits the prince to rescue her from a tortured life. Hope and belief in the seemingly impossible prevail and love reigns supreme. Now, my lived reality was quite different. I grew up with fiercely independent women as role models, who awaited no one to rescue them. In fact, they may well have shot prince charming had he dared come knocking, just for having the gall to think his presence was needed. And yet, a part of me really liked the idea that someone else could sweep in and fix everything, happy endings are so alluring. Of course, I didn’t realize I was holding on to that illusion, but I most certainly was.
I was a firm believer that hope floats. I thought, if we believe, long enough and hard enough, our energy, enthusiasm and corresponding actions will turn those hopes to reality. Some call this optimistic, others call it delusional. Take your pick. My adult revelation around hope is that, much like everything else, there are no absolutes, it’s not black and white. Certainly, hope can be powerful and beautiful and inspiring, but every coin has a flip side, and that other side is that hope can also sink.
I thought I had my prince charming, my plotting and planning to get my happy ending were all in line, I was on my way, the path was clear, it was all within reach. But then one day it became clear that prince charming is human after all, and unlike the fairy tales, he’s got some issues to work out, and low and behold he’s not even into this fairy tale, and doesn’t much like how this story is unraveling at all.
Hope and love can be so very powerful, verging on insanity to an outsider. In truth, I think a little insanity helps us get through the rough parts, so I held on tight to the dream. I saw the prince sail off to distant lands in search of well, I’m not sure what, but I was certain he’d find it and return renewed OR not find it and return repentant, either way it would all work out.
And so, hope kept me afloat for quite some time. And then suddenly it started sinking faster than a bolder heading straight to the bottom of the ocean floor. But still I held on, holding my breath, thinking perhaps someone will rescue me. And I waited, and waited… Until finally it dawned on me that although hope had been a saving grace, it was now just a weight, holding me down. There was no one to wait for, in fact, no one was coming. All I had to do was let go. So simple, and yet so painful because it required the acknowledgment of a very unwelcome end. A death, so to speak, an end of hope and belief in others and the arduous task of repositioning those hopes onto myself.
So I let go. I haven’t reached the surface, but it’s within reach. The beginning of a new chapter is bittersweet, it’s one that has to begin where the last one left off, so I move forward knowing full well that the fairy tale was a sham and that the real hero has to save herself.
Now I turn this lesson to you dear reader. Does your hope float, or is it brining you down?