Once upon a time Sarah went to a plant swap to exchange some of her own lovingly grown vegetable seedlings for others that she did not yet have in her greenhouse. There she met a pleasant young woman who offered her a fairy tale eggplant in exchange for one of her young zucchini plants. She looked down and smiled at the new little potted seedling in her hands, but when she looked back up to thank the young woman she was gone.
With a confused shrug, but a light heart, Sarah headed for home and found a sunny spot in one of her gardens for this little fairy tale eggplant, and over the next few weeks she watched as its wee treasures burst forth, admiring the daily deepening of the purple hue of their skins. Finally, she decided it was time to harvest the small eggplants and fry them up whole for her dinner.
She could hardly wait to try them! They looked simply perfect for just popping into her mouth.
She pulled one from the wok. POP into her mouth it went.
The first bite yielded something unexpected…heat. “Hmmm” she thought inquisitively to herself, “fairy tale eggplants are spicy?” She kept chewing and thinking about what she was experiencing. “Ooooo yes they are spicy. Wow, I think my mouth is burning. Gosh, this is unexpected, spicy fairy tale eggplants, who knew? Oh goodness, my mouth is really on fire, ouch oooo it really hurts!” Some panic began to rise then “Are my tastebuds going to singe off? Can that happen? What is happening?”
I would say it took a full 15 seconds for my mind to relinquish its hold on the fairy tale and accept the true story that my mouth knew immediately. This was no eggplant. This was a burning hot purple pepper, torching my tongue.
Finally, I spat out what remained of the (now acknowledged) pepper and spent the next 15 minutes crying and sucking on lemons (in the absence of yoghurt, a supposed remedy…I’m not so sure).
I would like to say that this was an isolated incident. Alas, not so. From fairy tale to fairy fail I have travelled before! Although a feeling of great stupidity is often the result, the initial intent in my stubborn belief in the beautiful is really rooted in love.
I have spent my life seeing the best in everyone and the splendor in everything. My healing career is built in part on my capacity to do this. Through my ability to mirror back to a client their most beautiful self they can see their reflection through new eyes. We humans need each other for this. It can be very hard to see the whole truth of who we are when we are lost in a fog of false beliefs and unresolved pain.
To believe in the best kind of story and to first see what is beautiful before seeing what is not, is of course not a bad thing in itself. The problem is when doing so comes a cost to what reality is really trying to reveal. Like most people, I have learned my lessons the hard way in my personal life, over and over, and over again.
One of the main tenets of the body of work that is family constellations is “acknowledging what is”. The ability to be with what is – to not turn away from any of it, to not deny or reject it, to not wish it were any other way than the way that it is – is said to be the foundation on which real love is built, and on which our ability to live in conscious co-creation with life rests.
Just acknowledge what is? Doesn’t sound so hard you say? Well, that is until you realize the consequences of acknowledging what is. These consequences go far beyond a dinner lost to the accidental inclusion of insanely spicy peppers. To acknowledge what is means to let go of what is not. It means to grieve for what is not and for what may no longer be possible. To release and relinquish people and situations from the fairy tale of who and what you think you need them to be, and from what they are not and cannot do for you. This is not easy. It requires great courage, and a willingness to face difficult truths with eyes wide open. But like in all hero’s journeys, the freedom that awaits becoming conscious of our unconscious patterns of suffering is immense.
Besides, does anyone really want a fairy tale anyway? I have since learnt that Monsanto holds the patent on fairy tale eggplant seeds. The Brothers Grimm really did make it clear…every fairy tale has its shadows.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will control your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung