Said the Nightengale

“And the little kitchen maid pointed to a small, grey bird, high in the branches….” Even while I sat watching a cartoon adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor and the Nightengale,” illustrated in watercolors, narrated by Glen Close in what likely were her “salad days;” the lesson was not lost on me: “Beauty and talent do not always go together…” as Salieri points out in the immortal “cult classic” Amadeus. It is a lesson that writers and storytellers across time have framed, but the longer I exist on this planet the more I see the students who learned that lesson are sparse–if not on the verge of extinction entirely.

And, especially in more recent history “special snowflakes” are spurned utterly. These days, you don’t even have to be all that “special” a snowflake to merit extermination. Case-and-point, myself. Because I am so comfortable in my own skin, I must be in denial of the “chip on my shoulder.” And how is it the chip on my shoulder is present? By the need I feel to “prove that I am intelligent and capable.”

I learned the day I graduated college, I will never be able to prove as much because my magnificent, magical, all-powerful Bachelor’s Degree is in truth nothing more than a glorified sales receipt, and even less useful! Since I have been shut out of the communities that others find themselves fortunate enough to stroll into or be born a member of, and my “Visa” into the community gates is forever judged either a forgery or expired, I have resigned myself to accepting that my intelligence, capability, and (yes), even my inherent worth cannot be proven. Because I will never have an opportunity to reveal any more of myself than the most infinitesimal sliver, I will forever be misread, and misjudged, and both underappreciated and undervalued.

But, wait, surely there are those who “know me best.” Surely, they will speak for me. No. There were only two people who knew me that well. One is long-since deceased. The other has forgotten everything he once knew about me and I must now teach him not only who I am, but who he himself is in Truth. He has forgotten himself, and so forgotten me. (To paraphrase Mufasa of Lion King fame).

Though, supposedly “hope springs eternal,” the hopes that have been sustaining me for the past eleven months are fast dying. I had hoped, when I found my anam cara that he would “sweep me off my feet, and carry me off to his castle in the clouds.” Instead, he left me standing behind him, and then set out to ensure that I had “a roof over my head and food in my belly and gas in the car.” Sure, that sounds even better than the rosy fairy tale I painted formerly. But, when that determined focus on material needs results in emotional starvation is it really better?

Which then begs the question, “maybe my ‘anam cara’ is not my ‘anam cara?'” Ill-fatedly, it is not so. I have the right Man, but he is too grievously wounded by the ordeals he’s suffered while unprotected from Life’s “slings and arrows.” And so, I now must heal not only myself, but my beloved as well, and continue the war that the right to Live seems to require largely single-handedly.

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