The news is constantly jam-packed with vivid and often horrific tales of: wars; famines; environmental and natural disasters; recessions – with whole countries going bankrupt and continual job losses; violence and abuse; and stress levels rocketing, to name but a few. It can all leave us feeling rather worn-out and depressed or result in us turning off the news to isolate ourselves from the misery of others. Often we feel so small and insignificant that it feels there is nothing we can do to change our world or help those in need.
What if we could do something? What if it doesn’t need to be the donation of all we own to a worthy cause or spending all our days running a new charity to help one small area of the world. What if we could start something new, right now this moment? Would you do it?
I watched, and rather secretly enjoyed, the delightful, children’s fairytale film “Enchanted” recently. Yes, it is a terribly cheesy film, so much so I can only compare it to a great chunk of British Stilton (a very strong blue cheese) but bear with me here. “Enchanted” tells the story of a magical fairytale cartoon girl, Giselle, who is flung by the evil Queen of her realm into the real world to prevent Giselle from marrying the Queen’s son.
There is a beautiful simplicity to the love story that unfolds between Giselle and a man in the real world (and his 6-year-old daughter). From the moment she arrives in the centre of the bustling US city, and throughout the blossoming romance, there is an innocent beauty to the character of Giselle. She always expects a “happily ever after” even where those around her in the real world consider that pure nonsense and a practical impossibility.
In only a few seconds her whole world had changed beyond recognition. Gone was everything she had ever had, ever been or ever dreamed of becoming. We can all identify with the negative feelings that arise from the very thought of being ripped away from everyone that knows us, from everything that holds our identity and memories, and forced changes in our own physical body or its condition. Yet, even though she faced all of this, Giselle didn’t get angry, she didn’t complain that it wasn’t fair and she didn’t give up. Instead she stayed positive (with a few tears along the way) and made the very best of the time and new place she had found herself in.
The film portrays the real world as the sad, depressing and hopeless place we often see on the news until Giselle crashes in bringing love, joy, happiness and hope in her wake. Her innocent yet deeply loving outlook on life gradually touches the hearts of all she meets – leading them to love her, to sing and dance through life (ok, that probably only appeals to the musical theatre darlings out there – like me), to find beauty where others might miss it, to trust others, to bring magic into the lives of young and old alike and to restore otherwise broken relationships.
Of course this is just a film and a classic Disney-style fairytale at that and I know there will be many who just dismiss the film as a nice diversion for the kids. But perhaps there is something we can learn from Giselle.
What would happen to our world if each one of us reached out to everyone we know with love and expectations of great things? If everyone across all nations did the same the whole world would be changed. Perhaps, like Giselle, we too could choose to hope for ourselves and for others who can’t yet find hope on their own, to bring joy into the worst of situations and to love those who others might ignore.
Stop and think as this week begins whether you can be light, hope and love to someone who needs it – to bring the fairytale magic to life and make a difference to someone else. Perhaps just a smile to an elderly neighbour, a quiet word on the bus, a small donation to a worthy cause, the gift of time to a single parent who is in desperate need of a day off – choose something that is right for you. Who knows, one day you might be in need and someone else will bring the magic back to you!