We all grow up reading fairy tales about true love and about happily ever after. What little girl hasn’t fantasized that she’s Snow White or Cinderella, saved by the magical kiss of her one true love? A young girl’s imagining of her wedding day is the ultimate manifestation of the fairy tale.
As I approached my own wedding to your wonderful mom, lots of people started to weigh in with opinions. When it all got a little dicey, a friend of mine gave me good advice. “Never forget, Norm”, he said, “your wedding day is for two people and two people only- the bride and her mother”. Yes, it was a funny line. And it was probably true.
And what about guys? Well, boys don’t acknowledge it as readily but it turns out the fairy tale effect applies to us too. We dream of being the handsome prince who slays the dragon and wins the kingdom, and whose valor and courage is rewarded with our very own fantasy princess and happily ever after.
For those of us who think we may not be handsome enough to be the right kind of leading man, or beautiful enough to be the right kind of leading lady, fear not. Meet Shrek and Princess Fiona, two green and ugly ogres who despite their physical shortcomings, found each other and true love, and lived happily ever after (well, at least until the sequel sent them on a new adventure). There’s a fairy tale for everybody.
On the other end of the spectrum, literature is full of tragic stories about star-crossed lovers who, unable to be with their one and only soul mate, decide life is not worth living without each other.
The most famous of these is probably the story of two young lovers named Romeo and Juliet. They have to marry in secret because of a long-standing feud between his family and hers. Towards the end of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo thinks that Juliet has killed herself.
Devastated, Romeo buys poison from a local apothecary (something between the local pharmacist and the local drug dealer) and takes his own life. Juliet then awakens from her self-induced coma and, realizing that Romeo has killed himself for her, stabs herself to death so they can be together for all eternity.
Lancelot and Guinevere. Tristan and Isolde. Cleopatra and Marc Antony. By the way, Mackenzie, I hope one day you’ll read these wonderful classics. They will undoubtedly make you cry, but they’ll also move you and inspire you and titillate you.
Whether it’s happily ever after or death by soul mate, these two sides of the same coin all seem to make the same point: that of the seven billion or so people on this earth, there is one and only one person destined for each of us. Can that be possible? And if it is, what are the odds that we will find each other? (I know, I know, one in seven billion). Those are some very long odds to say the least.
But is that how it all works in the real world? Is there really only one person for each of us? I don’t know.
Most people have a very difficult time finding a soul mate specifically because they believe it’s all supposed to happen magically. We’ve been raised to believe that when it’s our turn, Cupid shoots his arrow of love and our Cinderella or Prince Charming magically appears. It’s not that simple.
As you’ll already know by the time you read this letter, I actually did find a soul mate. Yet if you re-read my letter to you called “How I Met Your Mother”, you’ll know that it took me some twenty plus years to marry her after I first laid eyes on her. Had I been smart enough when your mom and I first met to understand the importance of giving Cupid a helping hand, your mom and I might have gotten together much earlier.
In the not too distant future, your heart will start to search for true love. You’ll be tempted to make lists of the traits that make up your perfect mate. Try not to do that. “He has to be funny”, or “we should meet in a romantic way”, or “he has to have a job” have little to do with love or the perfect mate (well, having a job would be good).
You’ll be tempted to think that if he is “the one”, love will blossom on its own. That’s not true. Cupid can shoot his arrows till the cows come home. Unless you are bold and courageous and wiling to risk, Cupid’s arrows may miss their mark.
You’ll be tempted to listen to your friends when they tell you someone is right for you or wrong for you. There’s nothing wrong with getting advice on love, but the heart is a lonely hunter. Your friends may be well intentioned, but in the end, only your heart and his truly matter.
Be open to all that the universe may bring your way, my sweet daughter. Relationships aren’t always easy, but falling in love should be. Chemistry. Pheromones. Swooning. Those elements are all crucially important. If your new love doesn’t take your breath away every so often, that person may not be the one for you. But pheromones and chemistry are only part of the equation.
Your mom’s sparkly green eyes make me swoon, but so does her kindness. Her touch takes my breath away, but so does her love of you and your sisters. Listen to your heart. Pay attention to the signals your body sends you. Look inside your soul.
But don’t give short shrift to those things about a person that only being together over time can convey. For in the end, whether it's Snow White and Prince Charming, or Shrek and Fiona, or Romeo and Juliet, or Norm and Laura, that is the stuff true love is made of.
All my everlasting love,