Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Crying for Cinderella
I worry about writing this post, following some of the posts I've written recently, because I think it might contribute to a view of me as being quite emotionally fragile. I am assuredly not. I do have little moments, like the one I'm going to write about, but my life, for the most part, is happy and I feel valued by the important people in my life. I'm going to go ahead with this story, because I want to tell you, but ... worry not.
A last minute plan had Ruby and Sadie and their Mom come down to the city to go with us to see Cinderella. We were going to the IMAX viewing and I was really, really looking forward to it. There were two reasons really, I wanted to see the kids see the movie, and after having heard an interview with Kenneth Branagh, I was interested to see his take on the old story.
We arrived and got great seats at the theatre, Ruby and Sadie were set to go and, as I'd hoped, they were transported into the magical world of Cinderella and the handsome prince. This version of the story, while it had all the trappings of a movie made for kids, what with the hilarity seeing mice turn into horses, had a surprisingly strong story line. Now, I need to confess that I've never seen any version of Cinderella on screen, and I only knew the outline of the story; evil stepmother; 'you won't go to the ball'; the dress; the glass slippers; the midnight warning; and the final fit.
I found myself watching the screen more than watching the kids as I was also swept into the story and the magic. I cried three times. Three times!! Twice because of what was happening on the screen. There was a moment, and this may be really hard to believe, where I, a big fat man in a wheelchair, identified with Cinderella's feelings and I cried as she cried and I cried for the same reasons that she did. I may not look as good in a ballgown as her but that didn't matter, what mattered was that feelings and their causes can be universal.
My final tears came, near the end, when I realized that I was in the theatre with two little girls and I wanted the world that we had seen on screen, the world where goodness was always rewarded, where kindness was a virtue that was valued, where courage kept you on course and where the wicked ultimately are undone, I wanted that world to be real. I wanted the girls to grow up in a world where their natural tendencies towards kindness and compassion will be seen and valued, not counted as weakness and naivety.
After the movie, we all talked about it. I asked if anyone had cried while watching the movie. None had. Sadie, who is five, said, "You cried in Cinderella?" with a kind of little girl version of ... WHAT?
So, I guess I discovered that I'm a little more emotionally vulnerable than a five year old girl. But then maybe it's because as a 62 year old man, I've had a little more experience of loss and of disrespect and therefore understand more deeply what it means to see good win out.
At least that's what I tell myself.
I guess these stories are enduring because of reasons other than handsome princes and beautiful Cinderellas. They are stories that encourage us to kindness and offer us a vision of what the world could be if kindness was a path to success and rewards, even more, than the way of cruelty and deceit.