After nourishment, shelter and companionship,
stories are the thing we need most in the world.
~ Philip Pullman~
This past Thanksgiving, Bob and I traveled to Virginia to be with our oldest son, his wife and his two sons, all of whom were struggling with a virus that resulted in stuffy noses and coughs.
In addition to preparing the feast, Bob and I also took over care of the two boys, Andrew, 3 ½ years, and Ryan, 18 months. The weather and temps were mild so we took them outside for walks and into the backyard to search for bugs (Andrew) and play in the sandbox (Ryan).
On one of our walks, Andrew suddenly became upset by an ant on the sidewalk and wanted me to pick him up. I tried to assure him that the ant couldn’t harm him (this is the kid who went looking for bugs with his Pop-pop) but he wasn’t buying it.
“What is the ant’s name, do you suppose?”
“He doesn’t have a name, g’andma. He’s a bug.” (Implied, “Duh!)
“But if he did have a name, what would it be?” (I’ve learned to be as persistent as young boys.)
After a moment of thought, “Icky.”
“Icky Ant?” Head nod.
“Where does he live?”
“At the mini-golf.” (Andrew loves mini-golf.)
“He does? Then how did he get here?”
Big smile. Fingers walk up the air, “He climbed a tree and…” hand swoops, “…a blue bird flew him here.” (Note the descriptive detail.)
“Really? Then how do you suppose he’ll get home?”
“He climb another tree and the blue bird will fly with him home.”
Andrew had shifted from fear and worry to delighted storytelling. We finished our walk and, once back inside, sat down with his crayons and paper to draw a picture of Icky Ant.
The power of storytelling. Not just to entertain or inform, but to move the teller and the listener (or the writer and the reader) back just far enough from fear and worry, to see the situation or challenge in a new light, and to use imagination to empower.
Never doubt the power of story to change attitudes and beliefs.
To empower you and I to live with more courage and hope and imagination.
Tell your story. Write your story.