Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do Fairy Tales Come True?

Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison WI
"Look! Over here! It's a frog on a lily pad!"
Dylan saunters over, surprised by how beautiful the moment is - crystal clear water, a gorgeous lily bloom, an unblinking frog. But not by the presence of a frog on a lily pad.
"Haven't you seen that before?" she asks.
"Nope. Not once. Have you?"
"Once before, I think."
"I mean, I have an image in my head of it - from Frogger, from fairy tales, but never in reality."

And never like this, even in those fairy tales - cartoons with frog princes, comic print images.
Reality is so much more glorious. It feels an understatement to say this, almost redundant, except for that we forget. I forget, at least. Do you?

It feels a little risky to have such a bright experience - this frog, this image that I cannot seem to let go of.  After all, this is not the most magical thing that has ever happened to me by far. And sometimes, after such a seredipitous evening (we also saw frogs in one of our favorite spots, not on lily pads, and many Monarch Butterflies), the rest of life - paperwork, email, phone calls - can pale in comparison. Certainly this division between magic and non-magic, amazing/fairy tale-like and "reality" isn't helpful. It's not that seeing beauty isn't helpful, its seeing it as separate that can turn a great experience into something that causes more pain.

This is the great lesson behind beauty - not that it is beautiful, but that it is not separate.
And how do I sense this might be the case? Because someone who knew better said it even better, in my inbox, about a week ago.

May you see many fairy tales come true. And may they not be separate from your life.

In a recent Ocean of Dharma email, there was this quote from Chogyam Trungpa:

Attempts are made to develop awareness through awareness of body, awareness of surroundings, and also through group work of various kinds. But there’s a problem if we are unable to relate with and appreciate the insignificant details of our everyday life. Doing special body awareness practices might seem extraordinarily fruitful and liberating. Nevertheless, there’s still a dichotomy in your life. You feel the importance and the seriousness of the awareness practice in which you’re involved, but in fact, the more you feel that the whole thing is important and serious, the more your development of awareness is going to be destroyed. Real awareness cannot develop if you are trying to chop your experience into categories and put it into pigeonholes.


  1. What an amazing, magical moment -- and stunning photograph. And yet if you had not been very aware of and receptive to your surroundings, you probably would not have seen it. That's the way it is with magical moments.