Grumpy’s choice

I’ve been happily watching “Once Upon a Time”, a television series which mixes reality with fairy tales in an artful and clever way.

As Bruno Bettelheim pointed out in his book The Uses of Enchantment, fairy tales are a very serious business indeed. Encountering stories that touch upon death, abandonment and other primal fears in symbolic terms provides children with a safe way to work through these issues.

So it’s not surprising that “Once Upon a Time” explores many such dark themes. In the course of this exploration, the series raises a number of fascinating questions. For example, in a scene that is at once sad, lovely, clever and laugh-out-loud funny, Grumpy (yes that Grumpy) denounces a potion that would erase the pain of a lost love. His exact words: “I don’t want my pain erased. As wretched as it is, I need my pain! It makes me who I am. It makes me Grumpy.”

So here’s a question: If you are feeling the intense — perhaps at times unbearable — pain of having lost someone you love, and you had the choice to simply erase this pain from your heart, as though the love and loss had never happened, what would you do? Would you keep the pain? Or would you choose to remove it, and thereby run the risk of removing a piece of your own identity?

6 thoughts on “Grumpy’s choice”

  1. Answering your question, I think I’d go with Tennyson on this one (“Tis better to have loved and lost…”). But I don’t think that holding onto the pain as part of your identity is a good thing. Better to move through the pain and let the fact that you loved be what you cherish.

  2. 🙂

    So, did you start watching because of the Jane Espenson connection or is that just coincidental? I haven’t started watching “Once Upon a Time” yet. Something to look forward to.

  3. Besides the unscheduled Sean Astin conference, getting to tell Jane I loved Buffy and Once Upon A Time was the high point of ComicCon. (She doesn’t even charge for autographs!) Apparently has a new web series that’s garnered some praise, and has been shanghaied into the Buffyverse (via the Season 9 comics):
    I haven’t begun this season of OUAT, better get crackin’…

    Oh, and as to your point…I’ve never suffered such a horrible oss, somehow. But honestly, I think Agent Smith was right about this: life wouldn’t feel ‘real’ without the pain. We all hate it, but I mean, would we appreciate the good we have to the same extent, if we felt nothing? Wouldn’t the nature of what we consider ‘good’ change? If we felt nothing, what would that do to our ability to empathize with each other? It’s not like the evil and awful will just cease to happen just because we’ll cease to feel. Maybe over time, people will be less vengeful or hateful because there won’t be such thing as feeling ‘wronged’. It’s too big a maybe for me…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *