The next choice in my Deal Me In Challenge is The Pine Tree by Hans Christian Andersen, drawn from the queen of clubs under short stories. It was a perfect choice to fit in with my goal to read as many fairy tales as I can this year, albeit at a moderate pace. I was looking forward to an Andersen story, as I expected it would be a little lighter than a story from The Brothers Grimm. I was wrong.
Once upon a time, there was a little pine tree who was growing in the forest. He was growing in a natural paradise with birds singing beautiful songs around him, lovely scenes of nature changing its colours, animals frolicking, the wind blowing gently through his branches and people admiring his beauty. However, the little tree noticed none of it. He only wanted to be bigger because he was sure some wonderful experience awaited him if only he could grow up.
“To grow and grow,” thought the pine tree, “to become tall and old; there’s nothing in the world so marvellous!”
He would not even listen to those wiser than he.
“Be glad that you are young,” whispered the sun’s rays. “Enjoy your strengh and the pleasure of being alive.”
But the little tree wanted to be cut down like the other big trees, to become a mast for a great ship or a Christmas tree wreathed in glory.
Sadly, the tree does get his wish but without revealing the whole story, needless to say, his experience was far, far from his expectations. The outcome was harsh and terribly tragic.
This was one of the more wretched and dismal fairy tales that I have yet read. Andersen doesn’t let up but goes for the proverbial emotional jugular with much foreshadowing right from the beginning of the story. What that accomplishes is to make you feel miserable throughout; no build up to misery or a shock at the conclusion but misery from beginning to end. I get it though. He was trying to tell us to enjoy each moment and our circumstances. Live in the present and don’t get distracted by grand thoughts of the future or focussed on what might happen. Stay in reality. And he hits you over the head with the lesson.
Personally, I don’t think anticipating and dreaming are bad, but when you allow those thoughts to make you miss the present and pull you out of reality, it’s dangerous. In any case, now I’m sad so I’ll end here and hope my next Deal Me In challenge choice deals with a more uplifting subject. Thanks, Hans.