A Different Path

What if Maagy chose a different path?

The question implies that she has a choice. The circumstance of her wealth, power, and position in society dictates that some of her life choices have been taken away.

Maagy is a child of privilege. She is the Crown Princess destined to become the Queen during the course of her adolescent, hormone driven, coming of age in the seven books that define her existence. She has been pampered and preened from the moment of her birth to take her mother’s crown and spoiled rotten by her over-indulgent father to compensate for her mother’s absence. This has created an irascible brat who has no real friends and is only tacitly tolerated by the Avington Palace household staff. The station in life to which she was born and the environment in which she has been raised have taken away many of her choices.

The same can be said for individuals born into abject poverty. Lack of resources can certainly limit one’s access to many opportunities afforded to the more affluent in society. However, whether blessed with good fortune or of meager means, our choices are endless. Wealth and power do not insure success. Meager means do not insure a life of struggle or lack of success. We hear daily stories of homeless teens who have persevered and achieved great academic success and who then are accepted to top-rated colleges. Their choices were to not accept NO for an answer; to not accept the limitations of poverty; to dedicate themselves to hard work. Rich or poor, success is all about the path one chooses.

Maagy has learned that the only way to be heard is to be loud. The best way to get what she wants immediately is to stomp her foot and demand it. Otherwise, she is seen and heard as a child with no importance; or at least, that’s the way she feels. She has been channeled into a narrow corridor, in her tiny, immature mind, and her only choice forward is the path of bad behavior.

Maagy’s duty to her kingdom is paramount. She must become the ruling monarch by her eighteenth birthday. However, while her job title is not up for debate, there are many decisions she can and does make freely along the way to get there, some of them not so wise. However limited we may consider our path forward, there are always decisions to be made; the most important of which is whether to forge ahead righteously or cheat our way to our goals. It’s a dilemma that my impetuous princess struggles with throughout the series.

The question becomes could she choose a different path? Probably not. Maagy’s destiny and in fact her existence were determined by mysterious forces of the Universe 500 years before her birth, but the choices she makes could smooth the path she walks. She could choose a way less cluttered with boulders were she not the Impetuous Princess.

When we first meet her in Just Maagy, she is just beginning her arduous journey toward adulthood. She has already learned that there is more than one way “to skin a cat”, as the old saying goes (not that I in any way advocate this barbaric practice!). She has learned the fine arts of deception and manipulation. When those tactics fail, she resorts to foot-stomping. She is beginning to discovering her ability to explore her options; make decisions for herself. However, not all her choices work out so well. When she lies to Rudolpho about her age in the confection shop and causes a cascade of events that embarrass King Henry, she is left the bitter consequences of having to face both men and apologize. On the other hand, she is elated and proud of her actions when she stands up to Owanu Obuku at the Summit and when she defies her father’s instructions and runs into a burning barn to save her beloved Cupid and several other horses from fiery death.

As Maagy begins to comprehend both the positive and negative consequences of her actions, she also begins to gain a sense of empowerment. While she stumbles on a few of those boulders in her path, for the first time in her life, she actually feels that she has some choices about how she will follow that road to its ultimate destination.

Then Maagy awakens on her sixteenth birthday to a pancake breakfast that King Henry has arranged. Life is good and can only get better, until it takes a sinister turn when he tells her to meet him at the door to the forbidden East Tower, a place she has always been terrified to enter. Over the course of the next few hours, Maagy’s life as she knows it is turned upside down, as she learns of a mysterious history of sorcery and intrigue that was responsible for her mother’s death. Worse yet, her idyllic impression of her father is shattered, as she learns that he has lied to her. She is thrown into a tailspin of anger, disappointment, confusion, and curiosity. Then she is shown the gargoyle-guarded crystal held captive in a wire cage. Henry tells her she must take hold of it, not knowing what might happen to his daughter. When she complies, she is swept up in a vision of ancient history with a convoluted message that becomes the key to her destiny.

Suddenly, her journey forward has become much more complicated. Once again, Maagy is put on a narrow path on which she has limited control over her choices, as she learns that she is the Chosen One. She is burdened with the responsibility of inheriting a gift of magic which she does not want but must use to eliminate a powerful, evil force.

Oddly, while Maagy’s choices seem even more limited, the one choice she is determined to make might be the most important one of her life. Against her father’s will, she becomes a Knight of the Realm; something no woman has ever done in 500 years of the order. The hallmark of Knighthood is honesty, one of Maagy’s biggest moral dilemmas. Questionable decisions she has made in the past with regard to her interpretation of the truth come back to haunt her more than once while she is away at training and on her own. The very circumstances that have taken away her ability to choose her future have now set her on a path of constant choices; a road that forks this way and that and is fraught with even larger boulders. Her Faith Quest is the final test of her will to be knighted. Her climb up the steep and slippery rock face to find the mysterious fire breathing dragons of Leprechaun Peak is a series of life or death choices. Fortunately, she is successful in her venture. Later in the series, Maagy is presented certain facts that lead her to conclude that even her Faith Quest might not have been of her own choosing. After all, it was part of her destiny.

So, the question is not so much what if Maagy chose a different path, but how will she choose to go forward on the one she has been given? Are there cosmic forces at work? Merlin tells Maagy in Warrior when she is trying to decide whether to return to the front:

“You have choices, Maagy. Each one will affect the outcome of your future. If you run away to Skodinovia and change your name and live in obscurity, your future will be different than if you go into battle and conquer the enemy. You might survive, but your Commonwealth will not.”

Each of us must take what we are given and choose our path forward. When one door closes, another must be forced open. We must set our goals higher than money or fame toward a greater goal of integrity, humility, and gratitude, as is the creed of knighthood. When Maagy struggles with her anger and realizes that it could be her undoing, she makes the decision to work toward self-control and calm thought. She learns to move without disturbing the feathers. As a Knight, she chooses to live a righteous life, even though her duty as a soldier creates a seemingly insurmountable paradox. Still, the wisdom from the ancients is that we always have choices and should “choose light over darkness”.

So, if Maagy could choose a different path, would she? What if you could choose a different path, would you?

There are always choices!

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