Gran's Apple Butter Blog

July 19, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Fairytales and Treadmills (6/VI)

Chapter 6 ~ Fairytales and Treadmills

      An important part of communication is honesty – certainly with others, but also with ourselves. It’s amazing how well we can fool ourselves, Gran said, and she should know – she’d done just that.

     It’s like living in a fairytale. They’re not just for kids, you know. At one point, I looked around and realized I was living in a fairytale, at least that’s how it looked from the outside. Every component was there: Prince Charming rescuing a fair maiden, sweeping her off on his white charger to a far-away kingdom where they lived happily ever after. What a lovely story. I was infatuated with this story.

     Unfortunately, so was Prince Charming. We were both completely bonkers over the idea that we were the perfect match. It was so obvious. However, we hadn’t dug quite deeply enough in the relationship books to learn that once the fairytale ends, if you don’t have a foundation, well, you don’t have a foundation. And if you haven’t done enough work to be at home inside yourself, rather than just a character in a story, a wolf at the door looks even more threatening.

     Sometimes we run instead of facing the wolf, thinking it’s safer. Sometimes we just ignore him, hoping he’ll go away. And sometimes we play the mugwump, with our mug on one side of the fence and our wump on the other, having neither “heart to stay, nor wit enough to run away.”[i]

     Wolves don’t usually go away, though, ‘cause they tend to be hungry. And other times we’re so busy in our little make-believe version of Jack and Jill that we don’t realize the curtain has gone up on a different play entirely and we’re smack-dab in the middle of a tornado, a long way from home.

     When we look up and see how far away we are, we have a choice. We can commit to doing whatever it takes to get started in the right direction again, by being totally honest with ourselves and each other. We can choose to stay busy, to ignore the situation, convincing ourselves it’s only a dream that will fade in morning’s light. 

     But this world isn’t make-believe. It’s very real. So are our choices, and so are their consequences. That choice we confuse as the status quo – it isn’t. There is no status quo in life, Gran said. You may be coming and going, but if you think you’re standing still, you’ll soon see that things around you start moving on their own, like you’re on a treadmill. If you stand there long enough, you may fall off. I know, because I stood there until I fell.  

     On the positive side, the crash generally wakes us up. Then we have a few choices: Do we get back on the treadmill? Do we start walking or running or do we just stand there again? How many times will we climb back on the same machine? After enough falls, we tend to look for a different one. It must be the treadmill’s fault, ‘cause it can’t be mine.

     We think everything will be different then, and it usually is, in some ways. There are different buttons and gadgets and we have a spiffy new outfit and running shoes. But the basic rules of treadmill operation are the same. We have to keep our eyes open and keep moving. Otherwise the whole cycle just begins again.

     Sometimes after we stand up we realize that we fell, not because there was anything wrong with our treadmill, but because we were balancing between two bands running opposite directions. This becomes very apparent when the switch is turned on. There’s little we can do to change this – these things are bolted to the floor, and we only have the keys to our machine. If it feels right, we can turn ours around to run alongside our partner’s. But if our heart cringes at that thought, we may decide to step back on our own path, facing our own direction, before anyone else gets hurts. 

     Gran said she’d heard rumors that there was a way people could step off these treadmills, either alone or together, but she couldn’t speak to that, not having experienced it. This seemed to be a place beyond coming and going, beyond cooperating and consensus. But it couldn’t be reached by force, and it couldn’t be reached before one was ready. Maybe someday I’ll learn what this means.

     Whether we’re on a treadmill or the blacktop, or even if we learn to step beyond, Gran said, we want to always keep our eyes open for truth. It’s better for us, it’s better for everyone around us, and it also lets us check out the cool little hula dancer on the dashboard of the old van that just passed… 


[i] Samuel Butler (1835-1902), English composer and satirical author, in Hudibras, pt. 3, cto. 3

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© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
Come visit: http://www.facebook.com/marybatson2 | http://www.frontporchrambles.com

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