Note: I ran across this meme through Miss Meliss. I was inspired, since I have recently resolved to make another stab at writing creatively. I have been lazy, scared, and unsure. The beginning attempts will surely be rusty, but I want to be more disciplined now that I have graduated. If you want to join or see more, visit Sunday Scribblings.
Once upon a time. One of the most familiar and comforting phrases to anyone who has grown up in a world that values creativity, imagination, and tales set in the Land of Faerie. But the phrase isn't complete without it's fraternal twin: The End.
The End of the stories of Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Frog and Toad, Winnie the Pooh, Old Yeller, Harry Potter, Elizabeth Bennett, Anne with an "e," and the Pevensey children. Even if the text is missing, our phrase is still there, echoing in the silence. We're all thinking it - The End.
But is it really The End? I sometimes wonder when I finish a story- don't the children who were lost in the woods have any more adventures - or do they really just live Happily Ever After with their papa? Does Princess Aurora have babies as beautiful as herself and her supermodel husband? Does the Beast ever have flares of temper reminiscent of his previous stubbornness and pride?
Life doesn't really ever tie up with "The End," does it? No problem-solving or painfully-achieved resolution ever lasts forever. After the wedding, there are inevitable financial difficulties or relationship challenges. After the baby is conceived, there is the looming of labor ahead, not to mention years of parenting struggles. After friends renew their friendship following an argument, there is always another challenge that lies ahead.
This is what makes us human, this eternal upward climb. Without struggle and pain, there is no growth. Life isn't episodic, despite the way it's portrayed in the 30-minute sitcom- sometimes ends aren't tied neatly into a Christmas bow in half of one hour - or even one hour, one year, or one lifetime. Maybe sometimes we even lose. But what kind of Happy Ever After would that be for our idyllic characters?
So maybe we shouldn't touch it. Maybe it's okay to leave it there, sitting ripely at the completion of the happy resolution. Perhaps it's acceptable to teach our children to hope for an After that is pure bliss. I know The End provokes peace for me and recall for me a time when I imagined there being a perfect Happily Ever After at The End of each struggle- and I know, after all, there is an Ever After in which joy will exceed all expectations. It is a Happily Ever After that is, I suppose, reflected in each dim and faded Ever After in the stories.
This is one of those times where The End will gently resound without being explicitly stated, since this return to writing for writing's sake will hopefully continue. There will be challenges and it will be an upward climb. I will climb.