The Fairy Tale Life

I know that I’ve been terrible about updating. I’m going to try to do better. The reason I’ve been terrible is that it’s been an incredibly busy month, and in the middle of that business, I’ve become introspective. I’ve turned inward rather than outward. I take walks, I look at the river. I think a lot.

Do you remember that about a year ago, I kept posting about caterpillars? In their chrysalis — is there a plural for chrysalis? — waiting to emerge. That’s how I felt at the time, like a caterpillar in its chrysalis, not entirely sure what was going to happen to me. Now I feel like the butterfly that has emerged and is waiting for its wings to dry. I’m trying to figure out where to fly next, where my wings will carry me. I’m not sure, and so I’m waiting for some sort of sign from the universe, something to tell me, yes, there.

In the meantime, I work and write and make apple crisp (which is what I’m doing right now).

This blog post is about living the fairy tale life, by which I probably mean something different than you think. It was originally inspired by part of an interview that a student of mine posted in the Facebook group for my class on Fairy Tales and Literature. The interview was with Christian Louboutin (yes, the shoe designer). He said that his life was a fairy tale and added, “But it’s because I choose to make it one. It’s very simple: You make up your mind about what kind of life you want to live. I choose to live in a fairy tale.” When I read that, I wondered if it really was that simple. Do we get to choose the kind of life we live? If we live AS IF we are in a fairy tale, will it work?

And then I started wondering what it would mean to live in a fairy tale anyway. Because the truth is, fairy tales can be fairly unpleasant places — like the real world, actually. But I thought of two things fairy tales give us that the real world doesn’t: magic and meaning.

In the real world, things don’t happen by magic. Or most people believe they don’t, but I have often felt magic in my own life. It has felt as though a good fairy is looking out for me, helping me. Living in a fairy tale is often difficult — there are ogres — but there is also help, there are also speaking animals that will tell you the way, good fairies that will show you what to do. And in fairy tales, your actions have meaning. Sharing your food with an old woman will eventually save you. To be honest, I believe that’s true in our world as well. Perhaps what really happens is that in our world, which is not a fairy tale world, we act as though there is no magic, and no meaning, and so they disappear. After all, our perceptions shape, if not reality (and I believe they do, to a certain extent), then our experience of it.

I’m going to write about this more in the coming days, but for the moment, I will leave you with a graphic that I asked a friend to design for me. It’s about living in a fairy tale, and it says that living a fairy tale life is not easy, or for the faint of heart. But I think what you get at the end is magic, meaning, and maybe even happily ever after.

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8 Responses to The Fairy Tale Life

  1. aaronpocock says:

    wonderful post and very timely- Thank you!

  2. Kirstie says:

    Such a good point. I’m sure many people would tackle the challenges in their lives with more gusto if they knew it would put more magic and meaning into them.

  3. I can’t think of any other way to live. Make plans? Ha. Follow some strange hunch?
    Yes, yes, yes. It’s a lot like not plotting a story too rigidly for the story seems to know
    where it wants to go. Just like our ‘genius’ knows.

  4. Jon Awbrey says:


    Memories of being held
    In closely knit spheres
    And guided beyond the orbits
    Of childhood fears
    Entrusted with a word
    That rustles in a breath
    And warrants respect for
    The not yet beautiful

    In Honor of My Parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary
    Jon Awbrey, Amherst, Massachusetts, March 21, 1996

  5. Tammy Vitale says:

    Came over from Hecate’s blog – delighted to discover you!

  6. Sylvia says:

    This is brilliant. Thank you. I think I’ve always been convinced of the magic and the meaning, nursed as I was on fairytales, folktales, books where women talked to animals, since the time I was a little girl– but never thought of it in this beautiful, strong, profoundly comforting way.

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