Everything I ever needed to know about life, I learned from Cinderella.

Extreme Make Over, indeed.

My name is Azul, and I love fairytales.

I like to think that my obsession is based more on the idea of overcoming insurmountable odds, as opposed to wearing a dress that was made with the tears of fairies, also known as sequins (not to knock on a good dress. Or sequins).

Still, for years Cinderella was my least favorite in the Disney fairytale cannon (and I know there’s a whole huge world outside of Disney fairytales, and I know that Cinderella isn’t originally Disney property, you don’t need to tell me but for the sake of everyone being on the same page, we’re gonna talk about the Disney Cinderella, ok? Ok. Thanks). She seemed bland, and boring. A push over. The whitest of the white, plain vanilla with no sprinkles, Wonderbread, oatmeal…I think you get my point. I never understood her appeal, and I was even less interested in trying to.

It took watching it in its entirety with a 3 year old to gain a new perspective on the fairytale that previously put me in a boredom-coma. You see, Cinderella is all about faith.

Yeah, you read right. Faith.

Now at first I was a skeptic. I asked the television screen “Really Cinderella? What, what, what are you doing?!” but, Cindy (she and I, we’re pals now) came through- because she wasn’t being a doormat, she was being faithful.

At the beginning Cinderella looses her mother- by all accounts this could or should have made her bitter. Would you have held it against her? Also, her stepmother is sort of satanous. Her step-sisters isolate her. She friends it up with the mice. They lock her in a shoddy room, where she has to get up early, and wear hobo clothes (ok, the hobo clothes part is not so bad, at least for me…moving along), and deal with a cat who is the stepmother in animal form. She cleans. The closest people she has to family taunt her.

Then she sings “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”- have you heard the lyrics? It is the entire theme for the movie. Cindy sings about how ‘no matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true’. Now, as a teenager I heard this and though- if I were her, I’d pretty much give all of that house (including the cat, excepting the mice) some laxatives, and pack my things and go live out in the world hobo style (1)I romanticize hobos 2) the historical possibility of doing that is unclear to me, but, refer back to1), because I was not going to be a push over and I was certainly not going to spend the day cleaning a house.

This time though, I realized that Cinderella’s kindness wasn’t a lack of character- it was the very essence of it. As a teenager I looked at that and pushed it aside- because I was strong, and moving forward and not going to be bothered with people mistreating me. I would never allow it because I was smart. It’s taken some years and hard knocks to realize that while abuse is never okay, there will be instances when those you love are mean or cruel.You love them anyway. And the quickest way to prevent the anger and resentment from turning into a dark bitterness? Serve them.

In the middle of all of this, the prince’s family decided to find him a future wife, and so, they decide that the way to get that done is to throw a party and invite all the single ladies (oh, oh, oh!) to dance, and see if the prince hits it off with someone. Cindy, is given more chores than usual for a shot to go to the ball and instead of whining the girl gets to it, because defiance isn’t always going outside of the box- sometimes it’s beating someone at their own game.

She finishes the tasks, and makes her own dress (take that Martha Stewart!) and what do her step sisters and step mother do? They tear her dress to shreds. She goes and cries in the garden.

This was the most significant change in my Cindy perspective because just as the worst of the worst is happening, 3 year old Erika’s eyes got wide and she exclaimed ‘Look, look a miracle!’ with a huge smile on her face. Why had I not ever bothered to look at it that way?

I believe in God- a very loving God. A Heavenly Father who looks on his children with care and concern and love. I’ve felt his love in my life in innumerable ways. God- like the good perfect father that he is, lets me try my hardest and my best before stepping in. Sometimes he doesn’t (Hello, my name’s Azul and I am exiled), but sometimes, he does. He knows when and why and how. And in that moment, I understood that God will and does reward me with better things than I could ever achieve or expect from my effort alone when I do give it my all. The easiest way for him to do that is if I have faith in him, and in his love for me.

Think of this for a second- have you ever tried to help an injured animal? I’m patron saint of birds (and lost causes, but that’s a subject for another day). I cannot see an injured bird without having this almost supernatural desire to save them. No injured bird will let you hold them just like that, so you have to cover their eyes with a cloth and swoop them into your arms and grab them carefully and try to assess the damage. How much easier would I be able to provide that help if the bird just knew that I was really trying to help it? If it just believed me?

I’m like that sometimes- I don’t always facilitate the help granted because I don’t believe. I think that things are bad, that they are so bad. But you know what? Before I know it, I’m in somebody’s arms being saved- after doing all that I could do. Heavenly Father sends someone to help, or facilitates something and then I realize I’m a princess in the fairy tale that is life.

What’s even cooler about Cinderella, is that even though her miracle had a curfew (holler at you midnight!), the girl was still so thankful because she got her shot. She knew what she wanted, she seized the opportunity when presented and then, she was thankful for it. She didn’t whine that she probably had to walk, or that she lost a shoe, or that it didn’t last longer- she was just thankful for what she got, and left it at that. She knew things had changed. She just didn’t put specifications on what that change would entail. And that is empowering (at least to me).

Antoine Saint-Exupery was right- grown ups never understand anything for themselves; children are forever explaining. Thank goodness my fairy tale guide happened to be patient with me.

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