I love this picture of my father and step brother. It was taken on the banks of the Thames, and I feel so sure of whoever I am when I see it. It's not at all tangible, but there's a misty idea, a concept of the family name, blood, mystery and adventure. A kind of mission, a 'something' which needs doing.
"My lady," he said, "I am a hero. It is a trade, no more, like weaving or brewing, and like them it has its own tricks and knacks and small arts. There are ways of perceiving witches, and knowing of poison streams; there are certain weak spots that all dragons tend to have, and certain riddles that hooded strangers tend to set you. But the true secret in being a hero lies in knowing the order of things. The swineherd cannot already be wed to the princess when he embarks on his adventures, nor can the boy knock on the witch's door when she is already away on vacation. The wicked uncle cannot be found out and foiled before he does something wicked. Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a very long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story."
And thus, the happy ending is so clearly there, but we are only in the middle of our stories. I have found some of the characters which will define the adventure, the cheshire cats which will smile and point me in the right direction, the foxes to tame and befriend. The chapter titles are written on the first pages, ready to be perused. There is the sense of an end, and an answer, which is a bittersweet relief. Like any good book it will be sad to turn the last page, but oh! How delicious it would be if you had uncovered the mysteries.
Equally though, this sort of thing is always followed by a beautiful paradox.
"There are no happy endings, because nothing ever really ends" Shmendrick
- All quotes Peter S. Beagle - A hero if there ever was one.