Last night I arrived home after trekking in the cold and slush. I once again vowed never to depend on public transportation again. I was also cursing myself because I allowed my stomach to rule my head. (I decided to buy dinner at the Store 24 instead of forego it).
As I waited for the pot pie I purchased to bake, I picked up a well worn book I had unearthed some time ago. The title is Women Who Run With the Wolves. It is by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Dr. Estés is a therapist (one of many talents) who has used stories and myths to as a methods of teaching life lessons.
I just happened to open to the section that concerned the story of The Little Match Girl. The Little Match Girl sold matches on the street to bring in money or else risked getting beat by her father who did not seem to care that his daughter was cold and underfed. She goes through the city trying to sell matches to people who are clearly not interested. It gets colder and later. She has not sold the matches and she cannot go home without the money. She sits on the stoop of a building. Across the street she sees a family inside a house celebrating the holidays season. It is a house filled with love, comfort and warmth-things that she does not have. As she gets colder, she begins to strike the matches to try to stay warm. She begins to daydream. Then she begans to run out of matches. Then, her grandmother appears before her. She comforts her and they ascend in a blaze of light. The next morning, the girl is found dead on the stoop.
Dr. Estés' reading of the story is that this girl made decisions that just kept backing herself into corners. She also kept avoiding her problem by daydreaming instead of finding real and practical solutions to her problems.
For example, the girl lit the matches to keep warm instead of knocking on the doors of the homes around her and asking for shelter. Instead of asking people for help (real shelter, a job, some food) she was trying to sell them matches. People, especially females, engage in this behaviour far too often and then live half-lived lives because of it.
Dr. Estés also reminds us that if you are in an untenable situation-you need to get out. What is 'untenable'? Any situation where you are not nutured, where you are beaten down, where you cannot thrive, where the cost of remaining far outweighs the cost of making a clean break.
The Match Girl lived with a father who did not care about her unless she brought home money from selling matches, which he did not share with her. He also beat her when she did not sell any matches.
The Match Girl was also trying to sell matches to people who clearly were not interested in what she was selling. More importantly, they did not care about the fact that there was a hungry, cold child out on the streets selling matches when she should be at home, warm and cared for.
The girl's response to everything was to just go into a corner and give herself up to comforting daydreams. Thus she died, which solved her immediate problems of food and shelter but oh, what she could have been!
One of the last lessons that adults learn as they become adults is when to move on. When to leave or at least, when to leave situations that are just not working.
We all have a very real fear of the unknown or of making a mistake-especially if we grew up in the "Bests the Dead Horse Clan."
As mentioned before, we only have one shot. It is best to live it on your own terms, which may vary from person to person. Living a half-lived life wrapped in comforting daydreams on the sidelines in an environment that you are not thriving in is definitely not living.