The Universe is made of stories,/ not of atoms. ~Muriel Rukeyser
Our oldest son and his wife came for a visit recently, bringing our grandsons, one-year-old Ryan and three-year-old Andrew. Andrew went home at the end of his visit with us with a fine collection of stories.
Stories about roasting marshmallows over a big fire with family and friends. Stories about fishing for tadpoles with a friend of his dad’s that he grew up with. Stories of hiking to a waterfall with his mom and dad, and going for a very brief ride in Pop-pop’s MG. And then there was all the baking of cookies and coffee cake with Grandma.
Bob and I read stories to Andrew and Ryan that were favorites of our sons when they were little boys, stories like In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer, Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein, and The Wicked Wizard and the Wicked Witch by Seymour Leichman.
Stories link the past with the present and the present with the future.
In Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, she says that for a longer period of time than people have believed the world was flat, they’ve believed that story is just a form of entertainment. Not so. She writes that story “as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. Story is what enabled us to imagine what might happen in the future, and so prepare for it…”
But story didn’t just help us prepare for the future, it also helped us capture the past so that we could learn from it and also be comforted by it. In the Middle Ages, for example, Taliesin and other bards shared the history and genealogies of their countries and cultures as well as spiritual and religious teachings through their songs and stories.
Contemporary stories speak to individual and collective identity, defining values, dreams and challenges, along with the heroes and heroines who dare to take action to meet those challenges.
What stories do you tell yourself on a regular basis about your writing? These stories may carry echoes from the past that still resonate and perhaps even distort the true story. It is critical to be aware of the stories you tell yourself. It is easy to keep repeating old stories, failing to realize that as an adult, you now have the power to tell new stories.
Because new stories can create a new future.
Stories educate, entertain, and empower.
They can also disempower.
Whether you speak them or write them.
So whether you are telling your grandson a story about confronting nightmares or writing a romance novel with a happily ever after ending, your story has power.
How will you use the power of story for yourself and others? For good or ill?
Once upon a time…
Your story has power. And if you are ready to tell it, in one form or another, email me to set up a time to talk about how I can help you use your story power for good.