The Little Red Riding Hood’s father killed the wolf that had tried to eat her. On their way back home, he admonished her. “You are too gullible,” he said. “You must exercise discretion about whom you should trust.” She said, “But Daddy, the wolf was hungry.” Her father replied, “Yes, the wolf was hungry. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll let him eat my daughter. The world is cruel, and we have to survive. If it’s wolf against you, it better be you.”
But the Little Red Riding Hood felt guilty over the death of the wolf. She knew in her heart that there had to be a better way to live, and she tried to make life better for everyone. She would take birds with broken wings in her home and care for them until their wings grew together and they could fly away. She picked a squirrel that boys were beating and brought her home and made her a pet. She would play with geese during the summer and cry when they were slaughtered in autumn.
She had long curly blond hair and giant, sensitive blue eyes. She had an elegant manner and beautiful posture. She drew beautiful pictures and made beautiful sculptures. She would climb trees and swim in the lake for hours, lost in her thoughts.
One day she watched people beating a goat. “What are you doing?” she asked. “He’s the scapegoat,” was the answer. “We beat him when we feel angry.” “How can you do that?” she shouted. “He is a living being. He feels pain just like you do.”
When the people left, she hugged the goat and cried. “I am so sorry,” she said looking into his big brown eyes, eyes full of pain and confusion. She kissed him on the forehead, then all over his face, and petted him on his fur. “I know, these people are cruel. But you are free now. Be free and enjoy your life.” The goat hobbled away.
All the boys in town wanted to be with her. She was emanating warmth, tenderness, softness and gentleness – a pink cloud about her that felt like cherry blossoms or orchids – and while she knew she could not be with everyone, she wanted to share with people the beauty inside her so that they too could see what she saw and be kind and joyful like her. Her parents said that she needed to toughen herself, so she swam in ice-cold river, hiked long distances in the mountains, jumped off of cliffs and walked through brambles. And throughout all this she remained as she was: Loving, compassionate, soft.
She meditated in a tree, and it came to her that all that the world needed was love. She decided to test that idea by going out into the forest and finding wolves. At the sight of a person they started howling; however she radiated so much warmth from her heart, that the wolves came to her and let her pet them. After that she said, “Wolves are actually very sweet. I know how to tame them with love.”
But people did not believe her, and town people saw all this with disturbance. In effect, they saw someone whose very existence – whose very nature – was a refutation to their worldview. So they attacked her.
She did not know how to answer these people. And although she was right – what she was, was right, and what the world needed and had long needed – she started to think that there was something wrong with her. So that, although every man in town wanted to be with her, she left the town and married the hunter in a village far away. He was obviously unhappy, and she thought that she could make him happy by loving him. That was a bad mistake.
He wanted her for all the wrong reasons. He saw her outer beauty, even as he had no value at all for the beauty she had inside. Seeing her gentleness, he thought she would be compliant and obedient. However, when he tried to make her abort their infant and she refused, he turned into a monster. For fifteen years he made it his project to completely destroy her and wipe from the world everything for which she stood. He brutalized her, tortured her emotionally, attacked everything in her and even shouted at her any time she laughed. The love that made it possible for her to tame wolves, he saw as a threat to his project: To control everything and everyone in his environment and make them believe the kind of love and beauty and promise she gave to be nonexistent, so that they would acquiesce to a bestial existence in which he was in control.
She thought that she was responsible for what he was doing and saying. And while she was willing to let him do whatever he was going to do to her, she refused to let him destroy their children. So that, when he made it his project to do to their children what he had been doing to her – and when her children told her that they would rather live in a dump than in that hell house – the Riding Hood left her husband and set off on her own.
Her father was at first angry at her, but as she explained to him what had happened he became more understanding. Her mother said that she had been unlucky. After they saw what had happened, they said that she had gotten taken advantage of because of her trusting nature – and tried to tell her what she needed to do to make sure that people did not take advantage of her again.
On her own, she again started painting. Her experience allowed her works to have depth that they had not had before, and many people found it fascinating to see her new message: Of beauty that passes through horror and retains its hope, tenderness and love. And while the town women were still grumbling about her, more people were able to appreciate her and what she was doing.
One day a troubadour from the Never-Neverland was traveling through the village. He sang sad songs about love lost, about injustice in the world, about tragic fates of people in his country. She came to talk to him, and he fell in love with her instantly. He saw her spirit – tender, warm, gentle, caring, and unbelievably beautiful – and he knew that he had discovered the most magnificent human being he’d ever known. Someone who was loving, spectacular and heroic. Someone who was beautiful all the way to the bone and had kept that beauty alive in impossible circumstances. Who was in her very being a principle of what the world can and should be.
He started writing her songs that celebrated her spirit and unbelievable beauty. Songs that put into words the goodness and tenderness and kindness she had within. Songs that expressed in words what she sought to express in her paintings and what she had in her soul. Songs that sought to impart, in writing, the magnificence that she was.
She loved him, and he loved her. One day he held her, and as he let go she started walking away with a heartbroken look on her face. “No,” he said, and held her again, and kept holding her until the pain was gone. “I want to burn up in my love for you,” he told her on another morning. They went to the mountains and held each other on the ground amid blooming clovers and daisies, as the setting sun in the west sent its last rays through the clouds and alit them in pink. They swam in the river, and, saying “let me be your ocean,” she let him recline into her. He placed his soul inside of hers and from it sculpted his songs.
Meanwhile the people in town said that there was a scandal. They said that the town princess was having a romance with a crazy troubadour. Town people – wife-beaters, philanderers, child-molesters, nagging wives, people in loveless marriages – looked down on them and said they were freaks and claimed their relationship to be sick when it was the only loving relationship in town. Her children told her that they needed to protect her from the troubadour – the man who loved her beyond anything in the world – after having done nothing to protect her from her brute of a husband. Her brothers were cruel to her, and her parents beseeched her to go back to the town of her birth, where they said people were more appreciative and more understanding of her and would treat her better.
The troubadour realized that he would be unable to keep the Riding Hood, and he let her go back to her parents’ town while continuing to write songs about her. She had shown him beauty beyond his wildest imagination; and as he saw and celebrated this beauty his eyes were opened to the sublime in the universe. A whole new dimension of life opened up for him – a dimension he had not known before, and that contained enough inspiration for a lifetime of songs and a lifetime of beauty and joy. And though the troubadour and the Riding Hood were apart, she continued inspiring him for years thereafter, and his works found appreciative audiences among people in different towns and villages all around the land.