A woman in a forest, wearing a red hooded cape, with a wolf standing behind her on a small mound. An Alternative to the Red Riding Hood Story

An Alternative to the Red Riding Hood Story

It’s not what you think

How many stories, poems and rhymes do you recall from when you were a child? Mary and her lamb, Humpty Dumpty, a ring of roses. Stories like “The three Musketeers”, “The Old man and the sea”, “Cinderella” and the story for the theme of this post, “Little Red Riding Hood”.

Are you aware that many of them have meanings behind them? That they evolved as a result of an event in the past? The one that sticks out the most amongst them all is “a ring of roses”. I found out later on in life that it was about the plague that raged in Britain during the middle ages.

A few days ago I got a message from my cousin, an Orthodox priest, of a video where a priest gives his view on what the fairy tale of Red Riding Hood could mean (link for those interested is at the bottom of the page).

As I watched, it became evident that what he was saying, the metaphors he was using, can be applied to our lives, in the way we live and the direction our life takes, and why. Each character in the story has a purpose and a meaning and, as such, was born this alternative to Red Riding Hood (Charles Perrault may or may not agree with this).

The characters

Red Riding Hood is us, each and every one of us. We cloak ourselves in a mantel of protection, that is build from our ego, our self image, who and what we think we are, including our jobs and careers.

We daren’t take it off incase we are seen for who and what we really are.

The Wolf is all the challenges we have to face in our life. It represents our fears and our doubts, about ourselves and the way our life is going to turn out. It’s society and societies opinions about who and what we should be. The opinions of those around us, our environment and our circumstances.

It is that part that feeds our ego and self image so we stay as we are, where we are, keeping ourselves in that comfort zone, just incase we are eaten by the wolf.

The Grandmother is the knowledge that we need to ensure that we lead a life worth living. She holds the knowledge and understanding we need to do so, and is therefore a threat to the wolf.

Red Riding Hood’s Mother is the epitome of life itself; we are born and released into the world (the forest), following the same path as those before us, warned not to stray from the straight and narrow.

The Hunter who kills the wolf and saves the grandmother and Red Riding Hood, is the awakening to the possibilities of life. To save us by opening our eyes to the truth of the life, the wolf and his purpose, and releasing the truth of possibilities (the grandmother) into the open, so we can see with our own eyes the meaning of this life.

The path itself is an entity of it’s own.

Don’t stray

Red Riding Hood’s mother tells her to stay on the path and not leave it.

We can take this in two main ways. The first is that by staying on the path we keep to our values and to our goals in life. The flowers and fruit on the sides of the path are the things that will try and get us to deviate from our main goal, in achieving what we want as a life. It is the little shiny objects that attract us, the sweet little nothings that get us to lose focus of our main goal.

On the other hand, secondly, we can look at the path as the “usual” route that we are expected to lead, never deviating from the norm, keeping us “in-line” so that we don’t make any changes. Few stray off the road to experience something different. But that path comes with it’s own obstacles and learning points. Just as Red Riding Hood learned.

The path is also never straight but windy, just as any meaningful success is; never a straight line but full of twists and turns, challenges, barriers, obstructions, opinions and fear.

Most will never stray because of fear, but those that do should expect a rougher ride. The consequence is that we learn more.

The ideal path is a combination of the two; maintain the straight road of your values and ethics, but never fear getting off the path to experience life. Find the balance by always keeping an eye on that path as you decide to venture into the unknown.

Walking along the path

If only we knew what life was to bring and how we could go manoeuvring around those bends to reach our chosen destination. Then we would know when to come off the path and when not to. Sounds ideal doesn’t it – there’s no fear or doubt there.

We could avoid the wolf with his big eyes, big ears and big mouth. The eyes through which we learn to see the world, through the media, the opinions of others and society. The ears with which we hear the repetitive talk and ideals of how we should be and lead our life, to make sure that we don’t deviate from the “norm”, that we stay in-line and in our comfort zone. The mouth with which we readily “eat” anything that easily pleases us or we can take on as the truth, whereas the fact is that very little of it is the truth. Being fed on artificial food rather than it’s pure alternative.

We lack the knowledge and understanding to make it as it ought to be.

And so we follow in the footsteps of those before us, believing that that is the best way to live a life, never considering that there might be another option. Most of the time we don’t know that there is another option.

Knowledge opens our eyes, but never forget to stay close to that path of values and ethics, where your morals and values determine the life you will have.

Returning to the path

We don’t know what path lays before us. But we can create a precursor to what it’s going to be, what can happen, by planning our life in advance. By ensuring that our thinking, our thoughts, our goals and direction in life are known to us.

Our mind is an incredible thing – it always gives us what we ask for; good or bad, beneficial or detrimental. All that you get is a result of your thoughts and your doubts.

So even if we don’t know what lays ahead one hundred percent, we can have an idea simply because of the way we think. It’s hard to grasp, but that is the truth that the grandmother knew, that the wolf wanted to hide, that Red Riding Hood needed and eventually realised, that the hunter freed.

Your job is to determine what path you are going to take, the risks you are willing to take to achieve the life you want.

Remember, the mother let her daughter go by herself on a risky road with minimum provisions, but she did because she believed that she, Red Riding Hood, could do it. So if you don’t believe you can, realise that there is a force that knows you can.

Your job is the what. The how will appear. Simply act.

There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.
Mark Nepo

Sometimes the right path is not always the easiest one.

Photograph by: Šárka Jonášová on Unsplash

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