There was a boy who went into the woods with a frozen heart. He wanted to go. To stop feeling. He went to live with the ice queen whose kisses took away the memories that hurt. And he stayed with her in the chill. Not because she made him stay. Because he wanted to stay.This was the premise of the book I just finished with my children, and it’s been swirling inside me ever since. It isn’t like any other book I’ve read, let alone any other children’s book. It’s painfully, achingly reflective of life. Real life.
But he was loved by a girl. She knew the essence of him. She wouldn't have him lost. She went after him through the woods into the cold. She encountered many people in the Wood who had been warped and changed by chasing after lost things they never did find. Instead, they lost themselves.
She found the boy on a lonely patch of ice. He was cold. He felt nothing. When he looked at her he didn’t see home anymore.
She thawed his heart with memory. Not with magic, or force. Just the truth about the way things really were. He followed her back home through the woods. The queen let him go. She’d never needed him. Hearts of ice don’t need or want for anything, after all. They just spread the cold wherever it will be received. . .
The boy and girl walked to the tree line. They walked out of the woods. And “they lived somehow ever after.”
Things get hard. We fight against it and it hurts a lot. The fight exhausts us. It steals the pleasant equilibrium we have worked to maintain. It starts to change us. So we make choices every day. Stay and fight. Stay and change. Stay. Go and surrender. Go and forget. Go.
Few stay. Few fight. Few allow change. Most go.
It’s easier to enter the cold forest and surrender to the numbing. And it doesn’t even require a long journey. Remarkably, this process can take place without moving at all. A mental fleeing. Entirely in the mind.
I have a friend who is sitting on an ice flow. Surrounded. But alone. He saw the forest from his hurting home, and he put his feet on the path and walked through the trees. He let the pull of the cold tug him along until he felt less. Less. Then nothing at all. Nothing true, anyways.
He built himself a palace of fragile nothing. It keeps him very busy. He plays with it’s untethered, movable parts, arranging and rearranging them to please him-- the razor-edged ice shard puzzle of his life. Funny thing is the pieces never really lock into place. Something never ever fits. But he has learned not to notice that he wears his life like a high-end jacket in a size too small.
Like the boy in the story, this boy is loved too. He is being followed. Pursued. He is being tracked through the trees by the echoes of who he was. He is being asked to come home. Wooed by memory. Reminded of what really is. He was warm once. Very, very alive. Fighting. Changing. Living.
But, he’s still there in the cold. That boy. In slippery, untouchable place, willfully handmade to hide in. He’s contentedly numb.
Someday the whispered prayers that have followed him down the icy path to the cold will reach him and thaw him bit by bit. Someday the love that tails him. Hounds him. Haunts him. It will melt him. And he’ll follow the warm current of it back home. Bring him home. Bring him home. Bring him home.