You’ve got a few projects to work on this week don’t you? A few reports to write, songs to compose, presentations to craft, deadlines to meet.
You might empathize with the ‘miller’s daughter’ from the fairy take “Rumpelstiltskin.” Here’s a refresher on the story:
- Lies and Greed. The ‘miller’ lies to be important. Says daughter can spin straw into gold. King sees great profit margins with daughter’s ‘abilities.’ Locks her in tower.
- Despair. Her project: spin massive amounts of straw into gold in three days or die. She feels hopeless. Who wouldn’t?
- Enter Hero? Rumpelstiltskin shows up. He’s her surrogate spinner for three days but takes her necklace, ring, and the promise of her firstborn child.
- Bargaining. King marries miller’s daughter. She spins straw into gold after all. They have a baby. Rump shows up and wants the baby. Miller’s daughter (now Queen) doesn’t give up baby and Rump says it’s no biggie as long as Queen can guess his name in three days.
- Happy Ending? She fails to guess correctly for day 1 and day 2, but does research (via a secret agent) and gets it correct on day 3. Rump is furious, doesn’t get child, and lives bitterly ever after. (In some versions the earth opens and swallows him whole.)
Question: Do you ever feel like the miller’s daughter?
- Living under someone else’s promise or dream?
- Seeking to do the seemingly impossible.
- Wishing for a magical dwarf to come along, spin away all night, and solve all your woes?
When I read this fairly tale, I see a story based on a big lie: the miller’s dream to find favor with the king. To get the attention he wants, the miller lies about his daughter’s abilities. Sure, there are a number of other lessons, but for me and my quest to be creative, I’ve got to stop right there. I don’t want to live under someone else’s needy dream. If I were the miller’s daughter and and the King was about to lock me in a tower, I’d have said “your amazingness, thanks for this great place to do some work for you. Much appreciated. Here’s the thing–my dad loves me so much that he thinks I can do anything. Including spinning straw into gold. I wish I could do that but I can’t make it happen. It’s not one of my gifts. What do you need, besides straw-spun gold, to further your kingdom?”
That’s a different plot line. Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need. An honest plot. Our stories always change when we make choices based on honesty and freedom rather than fake identities and lies.
I’m curious, what do you glean from the story of “Rumpelstiltskin?”