There are such fairytales, as well as reminiscences of a bygone era; or, when a traumatic event in one’s life bifurcates a “before” and differentiates from the “after”, such that we wanly smile and with eyes distant for yearning of a time now gone forever, we whisper to ourselves, “Once upon a time…”
Old men do that; grouchy grandmothers relegated to nursing homes and old people’s enclaves; those who have variously been diagnosed with “personality disorders” or other such general umbrellas that allow for living in a previous timelessness of shallow memories; but the uniqueness of the phrase is that, for old people and other grouches, to whisper, “Once upon a time…” is to look backwards; whereas, for children, when the story begins with, “Once upon a time…” – it is forward looking, to a world of imagination and creativity.
Yes, the story itself may have the setting of a time before, but within the child’s imagination, he or she is projecting forward in the wayward paths of creative fantasies.
Then, of course, there are people who are beset with medical conditions – such as Federal or Postal workers who are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position occupied, and who whisper in a soliloquy of sorts, “Once upon a time…”
Such reminiscences bifurcate a time “before” and a time “after” – where there was life before the onset of the medical condition, and the living hell after the medical condition became, and remains, a chronic state of being where pain, discomfort, inability to attain any restorative sleep, and profound exhaustion and fatigue sets in.
For that Federal or Postal worker who suffers from such a medical condition, that the Federal or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes also a kind of a “Once upon a time” moment. For, once an OPM Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, and the Federal or Postal employee no longer needs to struggle with the essential elements of one’s job, perhaps the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant can look back and whisper, “Once upon a time…” – but like the child who states it with a forward-looking smile.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire