This collection of tales will be dedicated to every woman who ever broke my heart, helped me mend when I bruised it, and to those who stood by me, even when I did it to myself. For those whose names I bear in memory and in my heart still.
Every world, every culture, every faith has its own collection of stories. Many serve as moral fables: simple tales, though not always so, that travel from place to place, from ear to ear with a lesson to tell. These stories may be dressed in the trappings of their time or layered in the myths of times long gone. There is always some new variant upon each telling, some change as every storyteller must add their own tweak to catch the fickle ear of their audience. Whatever is altered, the heart of the story ever remains the same. The purpose of a moral fable is to offer a lesson, suggest a course of action, or serve as a warning to the listener. It can as an example of the various paths one could take or offer a riddle as its conclusion. Sometimes, they strive to fill the place of a life lesson, without the pain and strife that so often accompanies.
Stories, while bearing of similar themes, are not the same, not all the way through. Moments of mirrored storyline can crop up, but there are as many different version of a fairy tale as there are lips or hands to speak it. Take, for example, the tale of the little Cinder-Girl. Hers is a story of kindness, patience and grace in adversity, and hard work begetting a joyful life. By the same token, the fable of the Lazy Ant and the Industrious Grasshopper has a similar ending: the one who worked hard for what they needed got their happy ending. Both stories have similarities, even similar themes of hard work rewarding those who so diligently apply themselves. The moral of the story, however, is far different. The Ant is left to starve. This implies that laziness is not rewarded, punished even. The Grasshopper and the Cinder-Girl get their happy ending, but at a bit of a cost. Nothing, at least not in the real world, is a ‘happily ever after’ forever. There will always be trouble brewing on the horizon.
The Grasshopper will live in luxury for the length of the winter, well fed from the stores she slaved to gather under the Ant’s mocking gaze. When spring comes again, the Grasshopper will find herself gathering food in order to survive the next hard winter. It is a never-ending cycle for the poor creature. The Cinder-Girl, now a princess, will live as a princess for the rest of her days. While her days of sleeping by a fireplace are over, that does not mean that those days will not have left their scars, nor that she will not encounter strife in the days after.
Each lesson, no matter what trappings it bears or packaging it is presented in, is important. It may be a vague idea of being kind to others; these are so often presented as travelers asking for a boon or for a warm meal. Others are more complex, tailored to a specific person or a finite ideal. Many the world over know the story of a quest for The Grail and the ones who pursue it. Others still tell of trials and tribulations leading to success beyond measure, or more physical rewards such as material goods and money. But overall, the general idea remains the same. They often help us learn what to do, what not to do, nudge us in a different direction that how we might otherwise journey, or offer lessons on how to become the best versions of ourselves as we grow.
It is these moral fables that help to keep the stories of the past relevant and histories alive long after the physical form of whatever heroine or hero has returned to the dust of the earth.