There is a story that answers the oldest of questions: what do women want?
A young and handsome knight of Camelot, named Gawain, set out to find the answer to save King Arthur from losing his throne. It sounds perilous–an entire kingdom dependent on determining what women want. But for a true knight, all things are possible. Answers always present themselves to those who honestly seek them.
For Sir Gawain, the answer presented itself in the guise of an old woman. She appeared in the forest, withered by age and sickness, and asked him for food. Being a kind as well as noble knight, Gawain made a place for her by the warm fire and gave her his food and drink. In gratitude, she told Gawain that she knew of his quest and would give him the answer he sought, if he would take her back to Camelot and make her his wife.
This was a harsh fate for a strong, handsome young man, the prize of the court and the favorite of all the beautiful young ladies. But Arthur’s kingdom was at stake, and so Gawain could do nothing but agree.
Upon his promise to marry her, she told him the secret of what all women want–to have their own way. But the story does not end there.
Gawain and his promised bride returned to Camelot, and the entire court grieved at seeing the young man bound to a haggard old woman, wise though she might be. But the wedding was duly planned and celebrated in lavish style, and that night Gawain joined his new bride in their wedding chamber.
When the court had retired and the couple were alone, a miraculous thing occurred–the wise woman was surrounded by glowing light, and then her form shifted and changed into that of a stunning young beauty with flowing blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes.
“I was cursed by an evil magician,” the lady said, “and forced to walk the world as an old woman before my time, until and unless a knight of Arthur’s court would make me his wife. But I am afraid the curse is not completely broken, and a choice is before you, my husband. You must choose–would you have me be beautiful by day, when all the court could see me, or at night, when we are alone together in our bedchamber? What, my husband, would you desire?”
“I cannot decide,” Gawain declared, after a moment’s thought. “You must choose what is more pleasing to you.”
“And now,” cried his lady, “the curse is well and truly broken, and I am free to appear as my true self at all hours of the day, for you have given me what all women wish for–the ability to have my own way.”
It is not only women, of course, who long to have their own way. For what does it mean, to have one’s own way, but to be one’s true and authentic self, at all times and in all places? This is the gift of love that breaks all curses, and sets us free.