Several years ago, during a difficult time in my life, a friend asked "what story are you living right now?" Of course! I could use my best tool, metaphor, to find a solution to my problems.
The story that popped into my head immediately was "Maid Maleen" from the Brothers Grimm. Maid Maleen refused to marry the man her father insisted on, so he locked her in a tower for seven years, with her servant and just enough food to eat for those seven years (don't overthink the logistics). As the food began to run low, Maid Maleen and her servant knew they would be rescued. They waited, but nobody came. So they took a butter knife and carved out a space between the stones until they could push one out.
They peered through the gap, but saw only desolation. There had clearly been a war and nobody was coming to save them. They'd have to do it themselves.
For me, the key was that Maid Maleen could have escaped long before, but the illusion of the impenetrable tower kept her captive. She could have gotten out. I could have gotten out of the situation I was in. Only when the food was running out did Maid Maleen and I realize that we had to depend on ourselves. The story goes on, but at the moment that I needed the metaphor, the first part of the tale held the most meaning for me.
I'm currently in transition, selling my Kansas City house and moving back to Lawrence, KS primarily to be closer to family and friends. I realized the other day that though I am comfortable with a fair amount of uncertainty in my freelance life, I'm having a tough time with the uncertainties involved in buying and selling houses: cleaning, listing, negotiations, inspections, appraisals, repairs, etc.
This afternoon I remembered the tool of metaphor. What story am I living? Not a folktale this time, but a literary story by Philippa Pearce called "The Manatee" from the book Lion at School. In this story, a small boy visits his grandfather for a sleepover for the first time by himself. He sees a picture of a manatee in a bedtime book and asks his slightly deaf grandfather if manatees are maneaters. The grandfather doesn't hear, so the boy is left to imagine the worst as he tries to fall asleep alone in the guest room. He lives through the kind of terror of the unknown we all experience from time to time. All is well in the morning, when his grandfather explains what manatees eat. (I'm afraid I'm not doing justice to this gently scary story. Check it out of your library!)
As I approach my closing date with quite a few uncertainties still hanging, I've imagined the worst. Now I'm remembering that things often work out for me, that all shall be well in the morning (well, in about ten mornings).
Here's a picture of my new house:
It needs quite a bit of work, so I'm sure I'll be posting more pictures as I dive into renovations.
What story are you living?