Margin Notes: THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne M. Valente Written by Grant Goodman, 12/9/2014
When you are born…your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish…But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living.
Life wears you down. That’s the truth for most of us. You want summers and sandy beaches and ice cream and smiles. Maybe, for a few weeks in a row, you get that. Then that other stuff happens. The sleet, the flat tire, the rust. They come in many forms. Illness, exhaustion, too much homework, your parents’ divorce.
No matter the age you are, you know what I’m talking about. There’s stuff that slows you down and saps your energy. It’s terrible. (And for those of you who may think that adults have it all figured out, I’m sorry to tell you that we’re just as lost as you are. There’s no magic button that we suddenly press when we’re 22. It’s probably better you find out now.)
The passage above is gorgeous because of its ability to capture all of those aspects of life and turn them into a small work of art.
Those of you who are in school, you know what it’s like to deal with the fear of what others will think of you. Others can be cruel. Plenty of people tell you to speak your mind, but the reality is that so many people are afraid of being judged. Your courage, indeed, can get all gunked up.
In Fairyland, you can have your courage scrubbed clean. It’s a physical act. Sadly, we don’t have that luxury here on Earth. We have something close, though. It varies from person to person. There’s something for each and every one of us that restores us.
Maybe it’s the alchemy we call cooking, maybe you need to breathe in the deep, green scent of the woods in the spring. Perhaps you pick up your paintbrush and capture your heart’s desire that way. Some of us get lost in the rustle of paper pages and find that little piece of us that somehow went missing.
Whatever it is, it won’t scrub you sparkling clean again. It will, however, fill you up with sunlight again and remind you that you can still glow.
From there, it’s up to you to deal with the shadowy stuff.
It’ll be easier, though, even if only a little.