After reading Six Crimson Cranes, I decided to reread The Six Swans collected by the Brothers Grimm and Birdwing by Rafe Martin. The Six Swans is an odd tale. I wondered about that lessons that could be found in it and I discovered there were many. Be mindful of those you are with. Value collaboration over competition. Trust your gut ~ if it doesn’t feel right, pay attention. Dedication and determination have their own rewards. A curse, or a blessing ~ it’s your choice. Girls, small and unnoticed have remarkable strength and capabilities.
I noticed those themes in Elizabeth Lim’s wonderful book, and I found them echoed in Birdwing. This is the story of Ardwin, the youngest brother. The one whose shirt remains incomplete as the six-year curse comes to an end. Because of this, he alone, remains part swan. The other princes and the princess – his brothers and sister – go off to lead their parts of the kingdom and thrive. Ardwin’s wing causes him to be seen as a freak. He is bullied and shunned by some in the court. Ardwin is different and he has many challenges. With the bad, comes some good. The wing allows Ardwin to experience nature more fully and understand the ways of animals more completely. While his brothers want nothing more to do with their swan past, Ardwin remains connected to the flock. As he grows, Ardwin seeks to understand his place and purpose. He begins a journey to discover his personal truth. On the way he loses his life-long friends and gains new understanding of the human race. He is rejected completely by some and accepted fully by others. He discovers that leadership is not rooted in power and authority, but in service and wisdom.
Reading Birdwing made me wonder about hope, longing and our human tendency to consider “what-if.” Have you ever considered magic – how did it come into the world and why did it leave? Ivnuk’s the walrus parting words struck a chord, “You never know how things will come out once you start, do you?” It seems to me that starting is the important thing. What journey can you start today?