“Memories are doing funny things to us.” – Milos Forman
Whenever i’m going on a longer trip by train I like to pick up some magazines. It doesn’t really matter what they’re about as long as it’s got something that grips my interest. This time there were two.
One was “Muscle & Fitness”, it featured Bruce Lee on the cover so, you know, I HAD to get it. The second one was “Skriva”, it had an article about evolving your characters and had a study of the evolution of Walter White (Breaking Bad).
In “Skriva” they mentioned an archetype called “The Valiant Little Tailor”. At first I didn’t really notice it but kept reading. It said something about “7 at one blow” (settle down!) and I started getting flashbacks to when I was a kid. I remembered some other things about squeezing cheese but it was really fragmented. I couldn’t remember the ending.
The damn thing stayed with me and when I was visiting my parents and asked my mom if she remembered the story. She said she didn’t but that it should be in the bookcase if it still existed. I started looking through the stacks and then… There it was! The Grimm Brothers’ “The Valiant Little Tailor”.
I sat down on the couch and told mom “It’s storytime!”. She sat down next to me and asked: “Do you want me to read it to you?”. In a second I was 8 again and handed over the book. She started reading and I just looked at the pictures and listened.
If you want to avoid spoilers skip to the bottom and listen to the story on YouTube first.
I remembered some things but the story started unraveling (pun intended) after the tailor “helped” the giant to carry the tree. When the story was finished my mom and I turned to each other and said: “Well, that’s a completely god awful story for children!”.
Why? Let’s take a look!
- He misdirects people.
- He manipulates people. Also, causes two giants to kill each other.
- He acts really arrogantly.
- He cuts the horn off of a precious unicorn. Like, what the fuck dude? Don’t do that!
- He marries a princess who doesn’t love him, and stays married to her. That’s just… No.
So, that being said, let’s look at the valuable lessons here.
- You can build on small victories (like 7 at one blow).
- Fake it ’til you make it! From tailor to king? No small feat!
- No guts, no glory. It takes some boldness to do the things he does.
- Use what you’ve got. You might start from humble beginnings but look at the tools you’ve got.
- Your only limits are the ones you put on yourself. The only thing that matters is whether you believe in your own ability.
What I found fascinating (besides the fact that I miss story time with mom) is how deep an impact that story made. I remembered the basic moral of it, how you can overcome anything by using your wit, but completely forgot all the BS the guy did. My mind edited all the traumatic stuff like unicorn mutilation and kept the good stuff.
Then I started thinking about how these things are missing from today’s stories. No matter how awful they seem they’re a fantastic opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about life and what makes us good people. “Honey, would YOU kill a unicorn to become king, marry a beautiful princess who doesn’t love you?”. Wow, i’m going to give my future kids so many traumas.
What stories do you remember from your childhood? How have they shaped the person you are today? If you could rewrite them (oh, i’m GOING to rewrite some of mine!), how would you change them?
Why? If you don’t like the story, tell it the way you wished it were.
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” – Tom Robbins
Grimm’s Fairy Tales – The Valiant Little Tailor