Saturday, March 04, 2006

Knights and Damsels

In the days of fairies, socercy and the basic fight against good and evil, things were more simple. The damsel, hidden away in her tower, bound by magic and guarded by a dragon, would await the knight in shining armor that destiny required would rescue her. She whiled away her hours, doing whatever is it that damsels do, and dreamed of her rescuer, and her freedom. This is not to say that the damsel is helpless. The phrase is "damsel in distress," not "hopelessly helpless damsel." She probably fought tooth and nail against going up in that tower. There was probably some shin-kicking, sratching, and definitly some name-calling. The bad guy probably came out of that struggle with some battle wounds. But there are some things that a damsel, no matter how fierce, just can't stand against. Maybe he threatened the people she loved. Maybe he bribed her with chocolate and accesories. Whatever happened, the damsel ended up stuck in some stupid tower, awaiting rescue from a hero that would inevitably show up.
And rescue would come. It may have come in the form of a knight in shining armor who slew the dragon with one fierce blow and managed not to get a drop of blood on his armor; or a peasant who outwitted the dragon and fought his way, tooth and nail to get to the woman who needed him. Whomever the savior, he needed no encouragement to save the damsel. He thought not of the dangers, the risk of failure. He only needed to know that there was a damsel who needed him, and he knew that saving her would be worth the risk. And in the end, love conquored all.

Today, in the days of business deals, politics and trans-atlantic flights, things seem so different. There are no towers in which to hide away innocent maidens. There is no evil socerer who simply wants to deprive others from happiness. No spells are cast. Perhaps the lore of the damsel and her knight have been cast aside; but they have not been forgotten. The desire to be rescued and protected lies in every woman - the desire to rescue lies in every man. The setting has just changed.
There is no socerer to cast the damsel into her tower. She either builds it for herself, or life builds it for her. Fear of failure, broken hearts, female competition - it all builds around her, brick by brick. She's a competant woman, she can get a degree, have a career, make a five-year-plan, but she can't completely control the world around her; she can't control others. And so, unwittingly, she locks the deepest, most sincere parts of herself into a fortress, guarded not by a dragon but by cynism. And she waits. Day by day, she pushes aside the loneliness, goes about her life, and waits for her knight.
The difference between the knights of old and the men of today may seem simple. It seems that the knights were invincible. But just because you never hear the stories about when the dragon ripped the knight's entrails out, it doesn't mean that it never happened. In fact, the difference is simple. The knights were simply willing to take the risk.
Granted, the men of today fight a different battle. Knights fought dragons controlled by socercy; the modern man faces a fortress of the damsel's own design. She knows it's weaknesses, surely, but she will not reveal them until the knight has proven worthy. It's a fierce battle, one with many casualties. Understandably, the men of today question whether the risk of this quest is worth the reward. What if the damsel turns out to be a real shrew?
And so the damsel waits, fierce on the outside, but trapped on the inside. She waits for her knight in shining armor, her peasant boy, the one man who can break through her cynicism and unlock her prison. Take pity on the modern men of this world. For unlike the knights, there is no map to lead the way, no years of training. There is simply the hope that the reward is worth the risk; assurance that true love still conquors all.

Finding Peace

It's almost two in the morning. I can't sleep. I'm tired, but not sleepy. I think there is something wrong with my mind. I feel this panic, a need to get away, but where to go? I hope to find peace in my empty apartment, but it's not there. I hope for it alone in my car, enjoying the rythmn of driving, but it's not their either. I look for it in the outdoors, in fresh air and sunlight - I've always found it there before. But this time, it's not there. I know in the logical side of my mind that I can get through this, that it's nothing I haven't dealt with before. But in my heart, I feel like it's different. Where all my illogical feelings are built up, I feel like this is the time I won't be able to handle it, that this is the time I really will go crazy. I think of all the place were I could feel safe, and it's always with the peope I love. Anywhere would be safe if I was snuggling with my mom. If anyone can save me from insanity, it's her. She has before. She saved my life. And now she's so far away. If I was with Best Friend, staying up too late and sleeping in all day, things would be right again. Therein, I believe, lies the key; the reason that this time is different. The sun came out, and the gloom dissapaited. But when I stop working, going to class, pretending like everything is okay, the lonliness descends like a cloud. The worst part about this time is that it IS real. There is a reason for the ache deep inside that it feels as if my soul is weeping and my heart is ripping open. Heartache. They should tell you that it's not just a metaphor. It really aches. The worst part? Not that it's real, but that there is nothing I can do to change it. I can't bring my family closer. I can't go see a movie with my best friend. I can't develop a trusting, tell-each-other-anything-unconditional-support-and-love in the next week. Or in the next month, for that matter. Worse, the one person I thought I could depend on, I can't. I don't know what happened, I don't know if it was somehow my fault. I just know it's not there anymore. It vanished so quickly - maybe I've been fooling myself all along. There was a reason I didn't want to call him by his full name. It's Frasier all over again.

I'm moving in six months. Six months - not long enough to establish a real relationship, and then I leave to a place where I know no one. How long is this desolate loneliness meant to last? These times, they challege my deepest and most powerful beliefs. "Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace? Where, in my need to know; where can I run? He answers privately, reaches my reaching. Who, who can understand? He, only One." Yet, in my darkest hours, when I most yearn for peace, when my reaching is greatest, I don't feel Him reaching back. I can recite the right answers, I can listen to pithy comments on faith from others, but the fact remains - I "know" the answers, but I'm not sure I believe them. "Faith precedes the miracle." What if my faith isn't sufficient. And that, that is my greatest fear. That in my anguish, the faith that I have based my life on will prove false. Perhaps peace can only be found within ourselves. Perhaps peace comes from having faith. And yet, no matter how I yearn for it, peace exceeds my grasp, and the ache remains.