We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us – Joseph Campbell
I’m totally hooked on the t.v show Once Upon a Time. I haven’t missed one episode since its debut in September 2011 (and I’m someone who watches maximum 10 hours of television per week).
The series began with a young boy’s quest to reunite his family and help the unfortunate modern-day residents of Storybrooke, Maine ‘remember’ who they really are – vibrant and exciting characters from the fairy tales you and I grew up with and know so well – Snow White, the Evil Queen, Rumpelstilskin, Cinderella, Prince Charming and so many others.
The plot and character development is complex and exciting enough to keep me fully engaged each hour.
Most of these well-known fairy tale people originated from the imagination of two German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who lived back in the nineteenth century. Their father died when the boys were 11 and 12 years of age. They were sent to live with an aunt a few years later to attend secondary school with plans to continue on to law school.
In 1808, their mother died and eldest teen child Jacob returned to the town of his birth and secured a job as a librarian to support his younger brothers and sister. Wilhelm returned home soon after and became a librarian as well.
They collaborated and wrote the first volume of 86 fairy tales and it was published just before Christmas in 1812 – just 4 years after their mother’s death.
Six subsequent volumes were produced up until 1857 – leaving a legacy of 211 stories. They were quite controversial at the time in that although they were categorized as children’s tales, their content was deemed too mature for young readers (and not many happy endings in the stories after all).
A child-friendly version of the fables was written by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1825 to appease the masses – and it’s this collection that has inspired countless other books and beloved Disney movie story classics over the ages.
Cut away to the fall of 2011 and back to this new, imaginative television show. Young Henry finds his birth mother and recruits her help in this earnest mission, telling her that she’s the only one who can save them all, and that they must do everything they can to help them remember who they really are “before it’s too late.”
Emma (Henry’s birth mother) discovers as the series develops she is also a fairy tale character, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
We get to see the drama and intrigue play out in the two parallel worlds – one set in present-day, the other…in timeless, far, far away (the actors all play their respective characters in each place so we don’t get too confused).
The thought of people living in two parallel universes is an intriguing premise to me.
I got to fantasizing about the possibilities how you and I could be living the same way. What if as creatives we had forgotten who we really are?
Have you always had a yearning to write or paint or dance or sing and just pushed it aside, telling yourself it’s just a silly fantasy?
What if in a parallel universe you were already there, already following your passion, already successful? How would you feel discovering this?
I think Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm would be astounded to discover how inspirational their work has been to many creatives, how ingrained their little stories have become in our culture, in our literature and art. Even though they had to lose their parents at a very young age, circumstance afforded them the opportunity to work creatively together and produce such an amazing legacy for us all.
If you had to create a fairy tale for yourself, who would your character be? What would your life be like? What great creative work would you produce?
What creative work could you start today in this present reality that might ‘help you remember’ who you really are?