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The Hundred Years

I would like to know why this is hard, said the prince. I would like to know why the hedge is so thick and the thorns are so sharp, and why, after I have come all this way and done so many brave deeds, I can’t take this last step.

What does Valor do, at its best? How do I learn to be the prince? And… is the final task to wait?


My life is stable now. Out of the great upheaval of the pandemic came incomparable goodness: independence, kinship, love. It would seem I shouldn’t be afraid of change, it’s been so generous with me.

But I feel tired and sad, and, though there are people who have far, far more claim to the word than I do, at my heaviest I feel like a refugee in this new space of my life: out of the battle, but not at peace.

Even though this is so good, better than before, of my own making; even though I got in the boat and survived the ocean crossing, this new land is not yet home. This castle is still thick with thorns, and I am wary of being cut again.

I’m glad I ended a marriage.

I’m thankful I closed a business.

I’m proud for all I’ve gained: all singing harps and flaming skulls and golden geese in the guise of a new home, a clearer vision, a treasury of first drafts from The Time Before waiting to be polished.

But, I wonder: what is this grief seeping through the soil, making it cling like clay to my feet?

The Prince pressed his hand to the thorns. The Princess pricked her finger on the spindle.

I put my shoulder to a wall of impossible questions and heave: Which story should I write? What path should I take? What matters? And, in case there is another war, another flood, another end of the world, which all feel exhaustingly inevitable: Which of these will keep me afloat?

Nothing budges.

I hold quite still in case this one is quicksand: What if I don’t have the strength for what comes next?


I am trying to get into the castle before the hundred years are up. 

In the story, princes and knights and other bold, pushing masculine aspects follow their own determination. They wrestle their way into the thicket that has grown up all around the stone, get caught on the thorns, struggle, get even more stuck, and die where they stand. Who can blame them? A hundred years feels like forever.

But when the curse breaks, in its own time and of its own accord, the passing prince steps up to the hedge and it bursts into flower. (At his touch? His presence? He didn’t do a thing— it was Time). The branches part and let him pass, and the way is filled with the scent of roses; his face is brushed with soft, tender petals.

Why him? Why then? (When is it my turn for flowers?)

The Prince who succeeds is the same prince who tried, again and again, and was crucified by thorns, whose flesh fed birds and whose bones grew green with moss over the decades.

It isn’t dumb luck that “he” came at the right time. It’s that he kept coming back.

The story only tells us of Beauty, cursed with death softened to sleep. We never hear if the fairy was also shunned at the Prince’s christening, but a prophecy on one part of the psyche is a spell cast upon the whole soul. The prince died by thorns, the princess by the spindle. Both sharp objects in the domain of women: spinning wheels and flowers.

The fairy is said to be jealous, furious she wasn’t honored. But she is Baba Yaga, creator-destroyer, and this is simply the 13th truth: birth is bloody, and the brutal is real. She is the deep underground power that takes both halves of the soul out of the ordinary realm. She shuts down the world, locks it away, puts it to sleep, sets it on a new path.

She was never going to give the gift of sweetness, gentleness, good looks.

Maybe this is her gift regardless of any forgotten party invitations: in order to grow up, you must, for a time, die. Lose your innocence, go within. To become the hero you must leave your easy life behind and take up an impossible quest.

The noble seeks the gentle, the warrior seeks the witch. He must keep pursuing Beauty through pain and blood and struggle and death. She must go to sleep in order to wake up. What is her journey in the underworld? What parts of himself are left hanging on the thorns in the thicket? What, when they are rejoined, do they make possible?

The realm is restored. 

The people wake up.

The curse at birth— the difficulty that was foretold— is fulfilled and ended.


I feel I am at the hedge. I am excited to have found the castle— it’s been a journey of its own to get here. 

I know she’s close, this part of myself that opens my heart, that awes me with true purity. But I can’t reach her yet. 

Should I keep vigil here, hacking at the foliage to show I care— or lay down my sword and armor and find simple work as a gooseboy, and wait for the roses to bloom?

I am the prince.

I am the princess.

I have been dormant.

I have been seeking.

We are one being, waking ourselves up.


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