Lessons Learned From "The Proud Princess"
I found this post I wrote a couple of years ago on my original blog. I feel like it is still very relevant, and so I copied it and moved it here for your benefit.
I hope you enjoy it!
Anyone here ever read "The Story Girl" by L.M. Montgomery? I have and it is fantastic. There are several stories within the story, all expertly narrated by the story girl herself. One of them held an extra powerful lesson for me and one that I believe we all need to hear in this day and age of social media bombardment, comparisons and jealousy. This story is called "The Wedding Veil of the Proud Princess". I copied it off of a website that I have cited below the book excerpt, and will totally take it down if requested to do so.
I invite you to read the story before I offer any spoilers. ;) The Story Girl finished her turnover, and stretched herself out on the grasses, pillowing her chin in her hands and looking at the sky. She was bare headed, as usual, and her scarlet ribbon was bound fillet wise about her head. She had twined freshly plucked dandelions around it and the effect was that of a crown of brilliant golden stars on her sleek, brown curls. "Look at that long, thin, lacy cloud up there," she said. "What does it make you think of, girls?" "A wedding veil," said Cecily. "That is just what it is--the Wedding Veil of the Proud Princess. I know a story about it. I read it in a book. Once upon a time"--the Story Girl's eyes grew dreamy, and her accents floated away on the summer air like wind-blown rose petals--"there was a princess who was the most beautiful princess in the world, and kings from all lands came to woo her for a bride. But she was as proud as she was beautiful. She laughed all her suitors to scorn. And when her father urged her to choose one of them as her husband she drew herself up haughtily-- so--" The Story Girl sprang to her feet and for a moment we saw the proud princess of the old tale in all her scornful loveliness-- "and she said, "'I will not wed until a king comes who can conquer all kings. Then I shall be the wife of the king of the world and no one can hold herself higher than I.' "So every king went to war to prove that he could conquer every one else, and there was a great deal of bloodshed and misery. But the proud princess laughed and sang, and she and her maidens worked at a wonderful lace veil which she meant to wear when the king of all kings came. It was a very beautiful veil; but her maidens whispered that a man had died and a woman's heart had broken for every stitch set in it. "Just when a king thought he had conquered everybody some other king would come and conquer him; and so it went on until it did not seem likely the proud princess would ever get a husband at all. But still her pride was so great that she would not yield, even though everybody except the kings who wanted to marry her, hated her for the suffering she had caused. One day a horn was blown at the palace gate; and there was one tall man in complete armor with his visor down, riding on a white horse. When he said he had come to marry the princess every one laughed, for he had no retinue and no beautiful apparel, and no golden crown. "'But I am the king who conquers all kings,' he said. "'You must prove it before I shall marry you,' said the proud princess. But she trembled and turned pale, for there was something in his voice that frightened her. And when he laughed, his laughter was still more dreadful. "'I can easily prove it, beautiful princess,' he said, 'but you must go with me to my kingdom for the proof. Marry me now, and you and I and your father and all your court will ride straightway to my kingdom; and if you are not satisfied then that I am the king who conquers all kings you may give me back my ring and return home free of me forever more.' "It was a strange wooing and the friends of the princess begged her to refuse. But her pride whispered that it would be such a wonderful thing to be the queen of the king of the world; so she consented; and her maidens dressed her, and put on the long lace veil that had been so many years a-making. Then they were married at once, but the bridegroom never lifted his visor and no one saw his face. The proud princess held herself more proudly than ever, but she was as white as her veil. And there was no laughter or merry-making, such as should be at a wedding, and every one looked at every one else with fear in his eyes. "After the wedding the bridegroom lifted his bride before him on his white horse, and her father and all the members of his court mounted, too, and rode after them. On and on they rode, and the skies grew darker and the wind blew and wailed, and the shades of evening came down. And just in the twilight they rode into a dark valley, filled with tombs and graves. "'Why have you brought me here?' cried the proud princess angrily. "'This is my kingdom,' he answered. 'These are the tombs of the kings I have conquered. Behold me, beautiful princess. I am Death!' "He lifted his visor. All saw his awful face. The proud princess shrieked. "'Come to my arms, my bride,' he cried. 'I have won you fairly. I am the king who conquers all kings!' "He clasped her fainting form to his breast and spurred his white horse to the tombs. A tempest of rain broke over the valley and blotted them from sight. Very sadly the old king and courtiers rode home, and never, never again did human eye behold the proud princess. But when those long, white clouds sweep across the sky, the country people in the land where she lived say, 'Look you, there is the Wedding Veil of the Proud Princess.' " The weird spell of the tale rested on us for some moments after the Story Girl had finished. We had walked with her in the place of death and grown cold with the horror that chilled the heart of the poor princess. Dan presently broke the spell. "You see it doesn't do to be too proud, Felicity," he remarked, giving her a poke. (http://www.online-literature.com/lucy_montgomery/story-girl/4/) I think every one of us have wished to be Queen of the World at some point or another. Who could blame us? We would do a terrific job of it. ;)
However, It is a good lesson to remember that it really doesn't do to be too proud. Our eternal felicity might be lost in a trade to appease our own pride. I know it is highly unlikely that death will show up to take us away (in the way he appears in this story at least) but the point remains.
Too often I see people doing ridiculous things to gain attention and approval from a world full of people who will never think about us as much as we think about ourselves even though there are families, real-life friends and communities- even pets- who do think about them and truly care. Oftentimes those are the very people who get pushed away and their hearts broken by the things we do.
How very beneficial it would be for us to take some time for them.
Call up a friend, go visit a family member.
Talk to someone new, write a thank you note to someone for something small.
Have you ever received a thank you note from someone you smiled at? I haven't but I think it would be fun to send one. These kinds of things stem from humility.
Looking outside of ourselves.
Feeling lonely? Do something about it. Everyone I talk to is lonely or wants to go do something, lets go back to life before screens took over.
Remember how people used to go visit friends without warning? Sometimes it would only be a five minute visit in the yard. But those people knew their visitor actually cared enough to pop over and see what they were up to for no good reason. Or what about inviting someone over without having a pinterest perfect garden party full of laughing guests?
Stop waiting for someone else to initiate your life.
There is beauty in simplicity.
Go and write your own story. You just need take the first step, maybe even the first hundred steps- people are sometimes slow to catch onto change. Things do change and will change as we do.
Lets just add a little humility and a little bravery (those include doing things that are super, crazy hard for us) into the daily recipe of life.
The final dish will taste way better, I promise. After all, who heard of a fairy tale where no one had to do something challenging?