Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

Hey everyone! Time for my little stopover once again… Having just clawed and crawled my way through the month from hell – the one where every silver lining seems to have at least three dark clouds – I got to thinking about all kinds of stuff, which seemed to take me down some weird and convoluted path to the issue of HEA. I know. I did say weird, didn’t I? But really it’s not such a giant leap from one to the other.

When I think about it, a large chunk of life is spent in pursuit of Happily Ever After, however we may define it (I think it’s safe to say the definition is related to our particular circumstances at any given time, and the “need” that goes along with them). Maybe good old Oxford or Webster got it all wrong, and “hope” should actually be spelled h.e.a…

On the surface, HEA maybe appears to be a “destination”, a place we arrive at and it’s all fairytale from there. In reality though, it’s as much a journey as the “getting there” is. It simply isn’t a suspended state of being. It has to be lived, experienced, and sometimes even lost in order for us to explore its full potential. Like everything else in life, it is subject to change – sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometime indifferent, change is in fact the only thing (outside of death) that we can be assured of in life.

So why then, even bother to pursue it, or to read and write it? Surely it effectively (if we accept the above) cancels itself out, makes it simply a “fairytale”? The question nagged at me so I turned to a classic fairytale, Cinderella, which epitomizes and is often used as the “rags to riches” storyline in so many lives. Like a lot of people out there, Cinderella and Prince Charming had to endure a lot – personal loss of a loved one, family abuse, injustice, over-controlling parents, meddling and family betrayal… The fairy godmother excluded (not many of us are fortunate enough to have one of those) there story is not that much different to any of ours.

And, like all of us, the hope (pursuit of HEA) keeps them going, gives them courage, helps them to see beyond the circumstances to better things. Finally, after almost insurmountable obstacles, a great deal of courage and determination and a healthy dollop of true love, they reach the HEA. Uh huh, that’s what the story says, I checked. “And they lived Happily Ever After”.

Interestingly enough, it doesn’t say the wicked stepmother and her obnoxious offspring suddenly morph into perfect in-laws. It doesn’t say that the King and Queen do the 12 step course on becoming model parents and stop trying to tell their son what to do. It doesn’t say the palace roof didn’t spring a leak in the rainy season, or that Charming and Cinders had model children who never got chicken pox, worked hard at school and always got straight A’s and didn’t need orthodontics. Or that the Kingdom wouldn’t ever have war or a recession.

It says that they LIVED Happily Ever After. To live assumes taking the bad along with the good. So why “happily”? Are we simply back to square one, and HEA just a meaningless and empty thing that we constantly strive after, much like the Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail? Is a large portion of the romance book industry founded on something that actually doesn’t exist?

On the contrary, it’s founded on the two greatest powers in life. First, Love, and second, Hope. HEA is the thing that lifts us beyond our circumstances, the hope that gives us the courage to endure and the power we have to transform even the most ordinary or painful of experiences into something lasting and worthwhile. No-one said Happily Ever After was easy. Living it is about as easy as getting there. The difference is that we have the ability to look beyond the pain and find hope, that in writing and reading towards HEA we are affirming the positive, celebrating the courageous, and establishing the enduring quality that sets us apart. Hope. Or HEA. Spell it whichever way you like…

Thanks for hanging with me!


Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, Jude, that was just extraordinary!!!
Having been, and being 'kicked' around by life, myself, I understand where you're coming from.
It's almost as though I write romance and HEA despite my life, these days.
But then, I am a born romantic. It simply lives in me, a rose garden in constant bud and bloom.
Thanks, for the Cinderella pics. That was one of my Disney favorites as a kid.

Linda Banche said...

I always thought HEA meant the hero and heroine would face the world together. The HEA creates a bond that makes one and one much greater than two.

And I love that cat picture. wonderful laugh.

Lindsay Townsend said...

What a perfect post, Judah! I can utterly relate to all you say and I do agree with you.

I love the joke you start with, too - made me almost fall off my computer chair with laughter!

Re Disney. I love their Beauty and Beast film: in fact I may fish that out again to watch pretty soon.Belive it or not, I've not seen Cinderella. Sounds as if I should look out for that, too.

Savanna - long may you live the romance!

Linda - HEA is truly about a bond, facing problems as one: I agree totally.

Sending HEAs to all romantics out there....

Bekki Lynn said...

So very true.

To really appreciate a HEA there must me something to compare it against or else how can you know the difference?

Or knowing the difference is what allows us to trudge along after it in spite of the happenings that pull against it.

I don't know if that makes sense, but it's struggle in life and fiction.

I loved the cat photo! Halarious!