I signed up to read fairy tales for solace.
Or so I thought.
I love that expression -- "or so I thought."
A Public Space, which is a journal+adventures in writing, is hosting reading groups, and at this time #apstogether is reading Grimm's fairy tales. I should know from my psychoanalyst teachers that fairy tales are about deep stuff, like mutilation and abandonment and being devoured. But I got the book and started to read, thinking oh joy, Cinderalla, in a Disney-esque spirit. Escapism, you might say.
But of course that's not it at all. The stark brutality is sometimes met with a solution, but sometimes not. Then we have to live with it. In a tale for grown ups that I read last night, a girl was cut off from her only supporter, who thought she had betrayed him. The multiple levels of loss and trauma make each other ring, like hitting the right note on the G string so that the cello's C string vibrates in resonance.
What use is that? Why do we read such stories?
I think the resonance is the recognition, the similarity, the "oh I know about that."
I saw the headlines in the paper -- immigrant children being deported to Mexico, even if that's not where they're from, zombie oil wells in Canada that threaten the earth, the God knows how many-th storm forming in the Caribbean.
Now why that should be comforting is anyone's guess. But perhaps as the poet Michael Lally always reminds me, "There is surely a time in history when things were also terribly difficult, yet people made it through." He would also say that we carry the memories of those bad times in our DNA, which is perhaps why the tales make us tingle. And we must also carry the DNA of survival, which is why we keep reading. Don't quit before the miracle happens, because God makes a way where there is no way: we know this, too.