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Twenty Something - on Tennyson


Crystal J. Stranaghan

The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

One of my favourite poems of all time.
I was rereading this today and it got me thinking...

Don't we all live in a tower? It's interesting that she functions fine in her tower by herself as long as she has a filter for her impressions. Everything she sees and processes in her life is reflected in her mirror.

It is when she embraces life directly and actually confronts reality head on that she destroys herself. Her belief in the curse is absolute and it seems she is unable to face reality head on without her mirror, her filter cracking.

I think in some ways we are all like this. We filter our experiences through a lens of perception – our own personal mirror. It helps us understand what we see and at the same time to distance ourselves from reality a little - soften it, temper it, so that it doesn't overwhelm us.

So much pain comes from our being confronted with a reality that doesn't agree with what we see in our own mirror.

How many stories do you hear of people who are destroyed by the “truth”? Coming face to face with reality can be a hazardous thing, and yet with the possibility of great pain also comes the possibility of great joy. In that way I guess we are all cursed just like the lady. If you risk descending from the seclusion of your tower and facing life head on, you need to accept that the very reality you embrace with such passion will eventually kill you.

But hopefully your trip down the river will last longer than the Lady of Shalott's, and that you may actually get to meet your Lancelot before you reach the end of the journey.

If we could ask her, I wonder if she would say even that brief time when she experienced life up close and in person was worth it...

What about you? Are you living in a tower or drifting down the river and enjoying every second of the ride?

Crystal J. Stranaghan © 2006

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