Risk, regret, and fairy tales

“Estar en las nubes” describes me perfectly. It isn’t enough that I read stories, but I am constantly daydreaming. My imagination likes to wander during almost activity: talking to someone, reading a book, working, driving — it is a wonder how I managed to focus enough to earn my educational degrees.

An imagination can lead one to think of a distant land to visit, a type of family they would like to have, or even just traveling to space (mentioning this spurs a song in my head that starts with “Ground control to Major Tom”). Yet, imagination and fairy tales have probably the strongest correlation. Like millions of children, I have had the Disney version of fairy tales read to me and told over to me in its cartoons. Growing older, I discovered the Brothers Grimm versions of such fairy tales which provide an opposite spectrum of what a fairy tale is usually referred as. In an earlier post, I wrote that we cannot depend on anyone else, but ourselves to make our fairy tales come true. But does a fairy tale always mean a “happily ever after”? To quote Orson Welles,

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

There is a certain risk involved on where to stop the story or to continue it I suppose. We take risks in everything we do (or don’t do). Such risks may entail pursuing a new career path or just changing lanes in the freeway. The depth of the risk depends upon a certain situation; and therefore, a certain amount of “letting your guard down”, meaning a certain vulnerability. Now let us look at the definition of that word, “vulnerability”. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives three options:

  1. Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.
  2. Open to attack or damage.
  3. Liable to increased penalties, but entitled to increased bonuses after winning a game in contract bridge.

I prefer the third definition. Let me tell you why…

Years ago, I read the book “Freakonomics” (I am sure you have heard of it), and recently I watched a documentary based upon the book. One of the vignettes informs that children are most driven to do something if they are presented with the incentives for their actions. But as we grow older, incentives becomes less important when considering our decisions. I think this hinders us adults in the actions needed to take a certain risk. And when this happens, it often can lead to regret. Yes, taking a risk or being vulnerable may lead to “increased penalties”, but it entitles you to “increased bonuses”.

I try to live by this way of thinking when I take a risk in my life: “What is the incentive?”

In the book by Gregory Maguire, “Mirror Mirror”, his characters undergo their own tasks of risk. Set amongst the valley of Tuscany, I find the storyline of this book to be a bit incomplete. I enjoyed his “Wicked” book because it told the story of the Wicked Witch. If “Mirror Mirror” had only focused on the point of view of the Evil Stepmother, I would have been more satisfied with this read. Below are some quotes of from the book I chose to share:

  • “The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.”
  • “Granted a second life, you must find in it more meaning than you could ever determine in your first.”
  • “The thing about a mirror is this: The one who stares into it is condemned to consider the world from her own perspective…she who centers herself in its surface is unlikely to notice anyone in the background who lacks a certain status, distinction.”
  • “She didn’t often revisit her past, for the future offered more succor.”
  • “It was a matter of balance. There is a smug assurance among pairs, a possibility of completion that other creatures lack…Perhaps that is why humans rely on the mirror, to get beyond the simple me-you, handsome-hideous, menacing-merciful. In a mirror, humans see that the other one is also them: the two are the same, one one.”
  • “We are never enough to ourselves because we can never be enough to another. Any one of us walks into any room and reminds its occupant that we are not the one they most want to see. We are never the one. We are never enough.”
  • “You are too lovely to walk in the woods’, he said cautiously. ‘Then let the woods improve themselves as I pass by.”
  • “Happiness was a cruel hoax, usually, eclipsing momentarily the true sour nature of the world…she waited for the giubilo immenso to pass, for that is the nature of visions; they slam to a close and then, my dears, that is that. Better not to have had them at all.”
  • “There is time. It rushes like a cloud of insects, an aeration of instants fluttering up from fissures in the ground, against my face; I brush them to see through them, beyond; but I try to see them as well, the instants.”


My next read will be “A Geek in Japan” by Héctor García. He also has an excellent blog that explains the culture and history of Japan in an entertaining way. In about a couple of weeks, I will be re-visiting Japan. I still remember some of the language and etiquette (very important in Japan) also because I visit parents in Oahu about twice a year for many years now. Around this same time of year, last year, I was introduced to the idea to visit Japan, but two disasters happened shortly thereafter — one personally and another to Japan itself. Japan’s natural disaster will always be a sad memory but never menial. And my personal disaster will just be something that happened.