Did you ever read those children’s fairy tale books where you could decide where the story would go? The princess would come to a cross- roads or breaking point in the story, and depending on which page you chose, the story had a different outcome.
When I was a child, my mother read these to me before bed. “Snow White is lost in the woods. If she follows the woodsman, turn to page 24. If she follows the breadcrumbs to the cottage, turn to page 16.” Total control of the ending. No surprises. No twists of fate.
In my own life, I had chosen a page number that led me to my prince at the time. The next pages I had chosen in my fairy tale were leading to marriage, family, vacation homes, and the suburbs. I had my life mapped out. But there was one major problem: he picked a different page number.
“I think I’m going to try page 32,” He said.
“Oh, babe! I’m so happy you are finally the one making plans! Let’s see what happens!”
I pulled up my ball gown to reveal my glass slippers, sat on my lily pad, and opened the storybook surrounded by my sidekicks of talking woodland creatures. What dreams waited on page 32? Dinner at 21 Club? An engagement ring? A weekend in the Hamptons?
Hmmm. This is odd. Wait. Am I on the right page?
“Babe, I’m reading page 32, and I don’t seem to be on it. My name appears nowhere on page 32. Or anywhere after.”
Poof. The ball gown turned back into seven jeans and a t-shirt. The glass slippers were cowboy boots. And even though He thought I was crazy, there were no talking animals.
What made this so difficult was fighting the ending. As we get older, it’s hard to understand that most fairy tales are fables. It was painful to accept the outcome when I saw it going somewhere else. In one of my favorite books, The Tao of Pooh, we are instructed to let your body be carried by the flow of the current. When you surrender and allow yourself to be guided, trusting that this is how your story is supposed to go, even though you thought otherwise, you are moved without any effort to where you are supposed to be.
“Through working in harmony with life’s circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may percieve as negative into something positive,” Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh.
But, when you try and paddle against a current, it’s so difficult. I went on a white water rafting trip once where we tried this. It took the max energy of everyone on the boat to try to move against the flow of the rapid to run it again, and we failed. I had the same failure in fighting my fairy-tale. I fought for the relationship, sent a countless number of embarrassing emails, and was left exhausted. It wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
Today I had a Tao of dessert. I wanted to go somewhere in my neighborhood that has my favorite black and white cookie. I had planned on it all week. Hours ago I could tell you without a doubt in my mind I would be at this bakery (which will remain nameless because I saving it for another entry). I walked around the corner according to plan. AND IT WAS CLOSED. For a “winter break.” Again, I had lost control of an ending. The page of the book I turned to was going to be completely different. I was disappointed, because I really wanted that black and white cookie.
I momentarily pouted and thought about where else I could walk to on this bitterly cold day in New York. And I saw the big yellow truck. Waffles & Dinges drove into my destiny.
It could have been anywhere in the city. But today, this food truck parked on 86th and 2nd. I had a waffle freshly baked that made the dish warm. It was topped with my all time FAVORITE topping…nutella!!! And lots of whipped cream.
I got to try something new, and man, did it hit the spot. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.