The Wisdom of Goldilocks
I have always been fascinated by Goldilocks, from The Three Bears, so fascinated I spent over a year researching the origins of the story, the different versions, including one written by Tolstoy and several different interpretations of the tale. As a result I decided to make Goldilocks, an older, maybe wiser and very assertive version, the third person narrator of my unpubished memoir, ‘Reading Goldilocks’. Part of what appears below is from the memoir. I had a lot of fun creating my Goldilocks; here is just a taste of what I did:
“‘Once upon a time there was a little girl called Goldilocks.’ This is a truth and a lie. My story should begin with ‘Once upon a time there was an old woman called Silverhair. She was walking alone in the forest, picking her way along the rough path and enjoying the sun’s warmth on her tired bones.’ But narrative is capricious. My beginning was edited by those fabulists, deceivers, false witnesses and name changers, otherwise known as story tellers. They transformed me into a more lissom creature; Goldenhair with her full red lips, blonde curls and firm flesh. But some things the story tellers cannot change. In my beginning I was bent, spirited, and cantankerous. After my metamorphosis I remained a wilful and committed sensualist.
I prefer to be known as Silverhair, but you, reader, may think of me as you want. I’ll accept Goldilocks if you wish. I was conceived, penned and drawn an age ago. I’m almost an icon now, one who haunts the boundaries of proper society. I seek unlocked doors, comfortable chairs and cooling—but never cold—bowls of porridge. Let me make this clear though: I meant no harm. At my worst I was merely a heretic in the old sense of the word. I insisted on choosing what is just right for me.
Most people cross a threshold and think little of it but I embrace the liminal, I’m obsessed with the promises offered by cusps. Maybe they will help me make an end. All I find, however, as I step across yet another doorsill is one more beginning. Like most imaginaries, most fictions, I will never die.
I’m comforted by knowing others of my kind exist: Psyche eternally sorting through seeds so she can win back her beloved; Pandora incessantly opening the chest to reveal the hope hidden beneath horror; poor Eve who insists on asking the right question even though she knows she’ll get the wrong answer, and the blame. And me: tasting, testing, sleeping, brazen and vulnerable in my quest to make the right choice based on experience. Knowledge is dangerous and those who seek it are a menace, particularly when they seek ‘just right.’
Living, as I do, on the verge of civilisation, I savour the space between ambiguity and certainty where I’m free to test the philosophy of just right and the endless opportunity to dialogue with dogma.
Picture Credit: The Three Bears, illus by? (London: George Routledge and Sons,1867)
Few know this, but I do have an after story and I have chosen it wisely. I dwell in twilight when children are put to bed and told stories to ease the night’s journey. I fend for myself, hunt for a safe place to rest, forage for food and appreciate the animals whose home I share. I celebrate the varieties of green that embrace me, I’m soothed by night forest sounds and I honour the shifting slant of light as each season is born, evolves and dies. I’m nourished by the forest’s wildness. My banishment is a blessing. I am where I belong.
I remain, however, a curious beast, one that cannot be quelled. I occasionally venture from my forest and peek through closed curtains. I spy on those women who have forgotten that wildness such as mine was once theirs. All this, over time, has changed me. I, who was once storied, have become a story teller in my own right.”