by Mira Apricita

Among other “favorite” questions, my children often ask me who my favorite princess is. Of course they don’t mean a real princess, like the one of England or of the few kingdoms still existing. They mean Disney princesses.

So, I shuffle in my head the ones I know: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel, and Belle. How can I possibly choose!? What comes to mind is their hair and dress color. Well, it seems like it all comes down to choosing colors, since behind the appearance there is no character. In their Disney stories, the princesses are the beautiful figures to which something quite unfair happens, they get in trouble, and then some noble prince comes to their rescue. So they really don’t have to do anything, but be so incredibly beautiful to inspire a battle to reset the fairness. Only the story of Ariel is different. Ariel is a mermaid, the youngest daughter of King Triton, the ruler of the sea. Ariel is fascinated with the human world and has a lavish collection of objects from that distant world. She delights in imagining what life might look like in the human world and how these objects are used, since they resemble nothing from her world. She is spirited, imaginative, playful, fun loving and adventurous, and most of all disobedient. Oh boy, oh boy! Not only has she had a character, but what a character! Well, it is not a secret any more, she is my favorite.

Ariel’s dad worried sick about his beloved child. In his days he had seen so much trouble caused by the humans that he had a solid believe that nothing good could come from their world. He tried so hard to teach Ariel to stay away from the humans, but she had no ability to see their dangerous side. One day, driven by her curiosity, Ariel went close to a ship and witnessed a joyful celebration on board. There was music, dances, playfulness. And in the middle of it all was a handsome young man, who stole her heart immediately. From that day on, Ariel had a dream. A crazy, unconventional dream. Although a mermaid, she imagined herself living with the enchanting man in his world beyond the sea. And no matter what her friends and her father commanded her to do for her own safety, she followed her heart, she followed her dream. Her desire to be with her love was so strong, that she gladly traded her wonderful voice for a set of legs, which she desperately needed in order to live on land. Her voice, her beautiful one-of-a-kind voice that set her apart from all others in her kingdom, she gave that up to follow her dream. Risking her life, her freedom, her identity, she went for what her heart desired. No one believed she had a chance. Everyone advised her against it, but yet, she went. All she could see was the moon-lit path toward the land of her love, where she would live the only kind of life that is worth living, no matter how ill equipped for it she might have been!

Each of us carries in our hearts the image, the unique image of our life that is worth living. And like Ariel, in the pursuit of it, sometimes we make a pact for the exchange of a priced possession. That’s how, one day, we find ourselves without hair or hearing, without a boob or two, or cut up and stitched up until no recognition. We find our perfect bodies no longer perfect. And no surgeon can ever restore their perfection. And the pain from the loss settles down to the bones. And it feels like we have lost it all. But the truth is that in exchange, we have received a chance to live our dream. Against all odds, we have been granted a fresh opportunity to acquire the only kind of life worth living. And although, we may never forget the losses we suffer on the way, we can bring out our innate bravery and reach our dreams with what we have left. For what we have left is just enough. Our true essence streaming from deep inside can guide us like a moon-lit path toward our dreams. We can be Ariel; we can be the spirited adventurous princess who lives her life to the fullest, regardless of all misfortunes. And our kingdom has no boundaries; it is as big as the Universe.

Mira Apricita is a native of Bulgaria who immigrated to the USA in 1993 in pursuit of a scientific career. She has a M.S. in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. Her scientific mind has been well trained for over three decades, to the point of dangerously overpowering her creativity. That changed abruptly in 2009, when after two cancer diagnosis, less than a year apart, and an unexpected divorce, she found herself abandoned, sick and unsure of what life was all about. Living so far away from her blood relatives, almost on the order side of the globe, the only survival resource she could find was her own self. She became aware of a power way bigger than her, but nevertheless, residing in her, which has miraculously formed her and kept her alive for almost half a century. That became the main building block of her new life. Ironically, connecting with that power was not as easy as it might sound. That was when art became her closest ally. Through drawing, painting, writing and dancing she was able to reach deep inside and get in touch with her inner wisdom. Today, both sides of her mind, the logical and the creative, live harmoniously and allow her to enjoy the surprises brought by each day like never before. Most of all she cherishes her meditation hours, the time spent in the woods and with her treasured daughters, and pondering about the meaning of being alive through art.