The Shape of Happily Ever After
“and they lived happily ever after” — ends the fairytale.
Happily Ever After is the punctuation at the end of a lead character’s arduous journey, where life or limb may have been lost but then she resiliently awakes from the stupor of banal existence — called forth by love. Usually symbolized by “Prince Charming”, as if by chance — and not by choice — and the result of some sort of cosmic guilt over some hardship you went through. Snow White didn’t eat the apple to find happiness. Sleeping Beauty did not choose to be awakened to a happy state — and why is there always an evil older woman in these stories which are redeemed by a young man?
But it ends there. We do not know the shape of Happily Ever After. And I think this is why we dread it…
Happily Ever After seems to be that unfamiliar terrain, the dream state that calls first for complete surrender, the proverbial leap of faith, and the warm fuzzy feeling that makes us disbelieve.
We do not know how to deal with Happily Ever After.
“You can’t be happy unless you‘re unhappy sometimes.” ~ Lauren Oliver
We have run, cried, fought with it, struggled with its tentacles, and screamed for dear life that we wake from the madness of believing in Happily Ever After, thinking it is the adult and responsible thing to do. That it is too pragmatic to be happy, thinking “happy” is a mindless experience where all impulses are rewarded and gratified, a cradle for sleep (closer to Rest In Peace) or a helpless baby’s crib.
“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness. You said that you were so happy you could die” ~ Gotye
But Happily Ever After promises no rest. It begs for our energy, mistakenly we call it to struggle as if rife with conflict, but really, it’s a constant creation and imagination lived and breathed decidedly, decisively. It is less of navel-gazing introspection and more of intuitive on-the-fly action and risk-taking. Maybe Happily Ever After is that regrouping in between challenges — then it is a spiral going upwards with breaks and cracks within — breaks and cracks that give us the glimpse of infinity or Ever After.
But what is happy?
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~ Frederick Keonig
But it is those things that make us happy that wreak the biggest fears. Happily Ever After is constancy of question, a tormenting segment of life where we lie less asleep and more in pain of deciding whether we like where we are or not.
“Be happy! It’s one way of being wise!” ~ Sidonie Gabrielle
Is wisdom the Happily Ever After? Is wisdom rest? Or is rest wisdom? Or is it wise to learn how to rest our minds? After all, we were made to withstand and even grow from failed dreams, disappointing saviours, and obsolete self-concepts.
We are Happily Ever After if we know how to be. If we keep ourselves awake — the responsibility of being free. If we don’t lose touch with what is in front of us. If we insist on it. If we defy the doubts and fears, rebel against them and say “I am here by choice.” Even as I bake in the scorching heat of your stares, even as I peer into this pitch-black quiet where only my breath is my compass, even as I skirmish through the sordid memories of defeats, even as I force a smile onto my face and practice a new kind of laugh, I. Am. Here. This is my Happily Ever After.
“I don’t want to be anything other than what I’ve been trying to be lately. All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind.” ~ Gavin Degraw
And I will give you some. I will learn to live with you in this universe — you, unpredictable to me, even as you take oaths of allegiance to me; you who are different from me; you who can one day say you don’t need me. I will be sunshine whether you look towards me or not.
I will be beaming with choice, by choice, for choice. I will breathe gratitude and contentment and peace, not waiting for something to roll me into the After part, but loving the now — constantly awake.
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~ James M. Barrie