Once upon a time two flawed people fell in love.
Not the way most fairy tales begin, is it? I guess that’s why they call them fairy tales—if you marry a fantasy character in real life, you don’t get the stuff of which legends are made.
Heroes who become legendary are flawed people. Face it—even Superman had a krypton allergy. Florence Nightingale—the ‘ministering angel’ who nursed soldiers back from death during the Crimean War? She retired to her bedroom her last forty years, nursing her own hypochondria and waiting to die.
Heroes do remarkable things under difficult circumstances. Fantasies are illusions, filled with vaporous characters and condensed plots. What was Peter Pan doing all those years until he got nailed down to his sensible shadow? And Sleeping Beauty. Do you realize when she woke up to that kiss and married the stranger who did it, she was a hundred years his senior? That’s just wrong on so many levels. What did they even have to talk about? You know music had to have changed.
Still, these are the lives we long for. ‘Happily Ever After’ and ‘The End’ are really just the beginning of the story, but we never get to hear the rest—the part that takes fifty or sixty years to live.
Sometimes people look at my marriage and think we must have been born under a lucky star. Okay, well, that part’s true. But what my husband and I don’t talk about much are the times we engage in parallel conversations, misunderstanding that we’re both saying the same thing, and walk away with hurt. Or how about when I throw him under the bus telling that same old story that embarrasses him but always gets a laugh from others? Um hmm—true love, that is. And believe it or not, sometimes we both are so proud and self protective, we let each other down while we hold ourselves up.
Doesn’t sound like heroics to me, does it to you?
But I bet you can relate. And beat yourself up with the best of us. Maybe we don’t have to go that far. Maybe we just choose the wrong heroes. It happens all the time in sports, you know. One minute a kid wants to grow up to be just like that rich, illiterate football star, and the next week his hero is in jail, autographing his own mug shot.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what are you trying to say, you ask me. Sigh. See? Even my writing is imperfect. I’m saying perfection is not the goal. Transparency is the goal. The real heroes in life are those who openly admit they are flawed. A single ‘I’m sorry’ is worth a hundred ‘I was right’s.
I’m a flawed person who fell in love with a flawed person. We let each other down all the time because we hold up unrealistic expectations of what love should look like. But this is what love looks like. Love gives sacrificially and without being deserved. And when a man loves me like that, I want to love him back the same way. For better or worse, that makes him my hero.
Now that’s legendary.
(Photo courtesy of kh1234567890's photostream on flickr.com)