Illustration from Instructions by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess

Illustration from Instructions by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the rules you should follow if you ever find yourself in a fairy tale. I think a lot of them are pretty good rules for life in general. Neil Gaiman wrote a wonderful poem titled “Instructions” that talks about some of the rules. It starts like this:

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before.
Say “please” before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted
front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat
nothing.
However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can,
ease its pain.

It goes on from there in a similar vein. Listen to him read it.

Don’t take things that don’t belong to you. If someone, or something, needs help, help them. Keep gifts given to you safe. Do not be jealous. Remember life isn’t all about riches and diamonds. Never lose hope. Trust those you’ve helped to help you, and remember that every enemy has a weakness.

Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

Don’t be afraid to take chances, go on a quest. Then, at the end, go home and rest.

Not bad rules to follow. Maybe I’m living my fairy tale, I just need to act like it.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.