Monday, October 26, 2009

Belonging (or: On Fairy-Tales)

A new point of view, a fight, a casual conversation and BANG! There you have it, your idea.
I'd run out of ideas, hence my not writing here for a little while. Hard to be a genius 24/7, after all. But here it is, a new egg has finally hatched.
Speaking of hatching eggs... I assume everyone knows the story of the ugly duckling? It's always been my favorite fairy-tale. I pretty much learnt how to read because of it.
So let's skip the whole narration. My point is: the morale of it all can be well summed up as "never judge a book by its cover", "for beauty is found within". But I also look at it as "birds of the same feather flock together". Literally.
But it's really hard to find your flock, ain't it?...
We never know what we'll grow up to be. And then, not knowing we do not fit in, we try to hang out with whomever's around, and in our not wanting to be alone, we mind not the huge differences between them and us. Heck, we even try to live among those who are drastically different from us, like day and... a sandwich. But their powers of observation do not fail them, they notice it. And they mock you out of their lives. (Ok, that sounds a little like bullying...). They scorn you, and you decide to leave. Henceforth, you'll be alone, for being in society has obviously not worked out well for you.
But you can't help envying the ones who have their pack. Or flock. Or covey, herd, cohort, whichever collective noun comes to your mind. Point is, you ask yourself why everyone seems to have a group where they belong, but not you.

Every other fairy-tale has already approached the subject: when The Beauty and the Beast starts (the Disney version, I mean, let's not get into the original Brother Grimm's tales, they can get rather gruesome...), Belle sings about finding a place where people understand her; in Hercules, the hero sings about a place "where a great, warm welcome will be waiting" for him, where "a voice keeps saying 'this is where I'm meant to be'." And finishes: "I will go most anywhere to feel like I belong". In Mulan, the heroine sings (hell, do they all sing?! Can't they just... I don't know, say it?), about not being able to play the perfect chinese daughter and bride. Not to mention Quasimodo, Victor Hugo's creation, distorted (a huge understatement!) by Disney almost 15 years ago - the hunchback hunted by the entire city of Paris just for being ugly, taking the ugly duckling complex to levels never dreamt before. And Esmeralda, hunted for an even lesser evil, if such a thing is possible: being a gipsy.
But Belle eventually finds ampler horizons; Hercules finally finds out about his olympic origins; Mulan joins the army (!), and gets a bow from the emperor himself. Quasimodo and Esmeralda are finally accepted by the parisian population (do NOT get me started on the humongous distortion here!).
And the ugly duckling, the one who made me all big-eyed and teary as a 5 year-old child, he too gets his happy ending: he gets to be in a flock of swans.

But before finding his flock, he had to adjust to the idea of being alone, and grow comfortable in his own skin.
Well, that sounds about right, given that all fable and fairy-tale animals resemble humans enormously.