“I have forgotten that men cannot see unicorns. If men no longer know what they’re looking at, there may be other unicorns in the world yet, unknown, and glad of it.”—The Last Unicorn (1982 movie) based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you unicorns don’t exist. I’ve met one. And no, I’m not talking about those pictures that occasionally circle the internet of goats who’ve had their horns trained to twist together to look like a single horn.
I’ve met a real, live unicorn. She just didn’t look like what most people might expect.
Accounts differ about where the unicorn legend originated, but the most consistent picture of them is of a white horse with a single spiral horn growing from their forehead. As every little girl will tell you, they’re exceptionally beautiful.
Their horn soon became known as the bane of evil. A unicorn horn could drive away evil, neutralize poison, and kill any monster it came into contact with. Both their horn and their blood were said to have healing properties.
In China, unicorns came to symbolize wisdom. They were the kings among the animals. In the United Kingdom, they symbolized purity and many kings made them part of their heraldry.
They were and are beloved for a very simple reason.
Unicorns are the embodiment of good.
My unicorn had dark hair, hands that were cold even in summer, and an infectious laugh. She was exceptionally beautiful both inside and out.
Her name was Amanda, and she was one of my best friends. In 2001, a repeat-offender drunk driver with a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit and a suspended license slammed into her driver’s side door at 100/mph (160 km/h). After 21 hours in a coma, she died. In a way, it was a blessing. The doctors said even if she’d woken up, she’d never have been the Amanda we knew again.
For a year, I brought flowers to her grave every Friday. I went because I missed her, but to be honest, I think I went more because of the fear that if I skipped even one week it would mean I’d forgotten her. And she deserved to be remembered.
Then, a year after her death, sitting on the soggy ground beside her grave, I finally realized the best way to honor and remember her wasn’t to sit in the cold and cry. It wasn’t to bring her flowers. It was to let her life and who she was motivate me to be a better person.
When you cut away all the myths and speculations and stories, unicorns are the things that make us want to be better simply by knowing of them, by being around them. They are what we aspire to be.
Amanda was far from perfect, but I can’t remember the imperfections anymore. What I do remember is her creativity, her cheerfulness, her refusal to let anyone change who she was, her determination and strong work ethic, her soft heart for hurting people.
The qualities I still remember best about her are the ones I want people to one day remember about me too.
I’m far from perfect. I’m still far from being the person I want to be. But I hope that one day, if I keep working at it, I’ll be someone’s unicorn too.
Who’s your unicorn? What is it about them that you so admire? How have they helped you become a better person?
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Image: FreeImages.com/Gabor Palla