December 13, 2011

{Love's Confusing Joy}

[The following is an excerpt from Chapter Five of my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Rescued the Damsel in Distress {and Other Princess Myths Revealed}.]

IMadame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert’s nineteenth century novel, his dreamy, grasping heroine, Emma Bovary, mused about how it would be to escape what she considered her boring life if she married:

But her eagerness for a change, or perhaps overstimulated [sic] by this man’s presence, she easily persuaded herself that love, that marvelous thing which had hitherto been like a great rosy-plumaged bird soaring in the splendors of poetic skies, was at last within her grasp. And now she could not bring herself to believe that the uneventful life she was leading was the happiness of which she had dreamed.

Princess Diana’s life did not become “uneventful,” it became very busy and full of events after she married, just not what she expected or was prepared for. So once again the overwhelmed princess was “grasping” at life in a world that was asking for more! And she continued grasping for love to sooth the yearning and loneliness, and to help settle the always hovering unease.

I think that the essence of Diana’s little girl dreams (and the dreams for every one of us) was to be deeply loved, period. “By a prince” was just an added fairy-tale attraction that her/our fantasies made up. (Maybe “by a prince” is a euphemism for being loved unconditionally, for being taken care of completely.)

 “To be loved” is at the heart of most fairy tales. There are probably a thousand or so versions of the “being rescued by a prince” Cinderella fairy tale from Indonesia to the Americas, across Europe, and throughout China and India. Most are ancient, some are modern tales re-envisioned; but all the Cinderella tales are versions where mythology expresses, and sometimes shapes, our dreams. Transformative dreams where love’s journey takes us, through light and shadow. “Beyond and beneath the Cinderella stories,” explained Jungian writer Ann Shearer in When a Princess Dies, “is the oldest fairy-tale of all: the suffering of Psyche in her search for Eros, the archetypal story of the soul’s yearning for love.” And perhaps this was the universal piece of Diana’s fairy tale that drew us into her story so deeply. Were her daydreams so different from our own? Are we all searching for, in the poet Rumi’s wise words from centuries ago, “love’s confusing joy”…? ~

[More excerpts posted soon. Book publication date scheduled in 2012. Stay tuned!]

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