Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Everyone has a thousand stories.

Everyone has a thousand stories. Each day of our lives add more stories to the vast universe of who and what we are. Our lives are stories. They are not Youtube videos, lasting less than three minutes with advertisements. They are not pop songs crooned by someone just figuring out that they are alive and that they can do more than write their names in the snow with their genitalia. Some lives are happy, some are sad, some are full of challenge, while others seem to fly by without apparent effort as if those people were launched at birth into a different stratosphere of possibility.
Angela R. Hunt, author hiking the Flat Irons.

I have hiked the Flat Irons trail three different times in two years. Each time there has been a story or two or three. Some stories are better than others, calling the listener or reader to attend to the challenges and the emotional charge. Suspense, humor, ridiculous risks, these are all parts of a good story.

Lately, as I search for venues to storytell at I am surprised by how many venues do not regard storytelling as entertainment. How many times I have been told "You are just a kid's activity" as if I were a game of Monopoly or a sit and spin toy. Something to disregard with the relief that I am capable of entertaining all ages including the very young, something apparently perceived as less valuable than music, circus tricks, and even animals. As I deal with being told that there is no financial value to telling stories I know that it is not the case. I wish there was a better definition for a professional who not only tells stories but is capable of writing and creating them. I weave your  requests into a story, or I take a concept and I follow the thought trails to see where it leads. I give you the story. I have told thousands of stories, starting as a child getting in trouble. Everyone was a child. We all got into trouble.

I learned to talk my way into and out of trouble, it was a tricky conversation that started like a stream, clear and obvious. Seemingly shallow and shockingly cold.

It usually went something like this...

"Why do you have to carry buckets of water to your dog?" The blonde, ten year old girl asked of the shorter sandy haired girl.

See it started there, and the sandy haired child about to speak- is me. It started there. I didn't say a word yet. Here it comes.

"Don't you have to water your dog?" Pause while the taller girl shakes her head that she does not.
"Well, did you notice that dogs do not have hands?" There is a nod after the taller girl squints at the dog the two girls are walking toward with a full five gallon bucket of water. The water is sloshing out occasionally, getting the girls feet wet; but there will be plenty left for the dog.

"So how will the dog drink the water?" The taller girl asks. The shorter girl stops. Looks at the taller girl.  Blinks a few times as the forces of good and evil within her war in a tired way that demonstrates trouble wins most frequently.

"We use this." The shorter girl looks very serious as she pulls out a squirt gun. "We have to actually put the water in the dog's mouth. They can't pick up a dish with paws." The taller girl looks at the gun, looks at the dog and nods.

"I wondered how they drank. Can I do it? I should learn." The squirt gun is handed to the taller girl. There is a babbling brook of information flooding out of the shorter girl on shooting technique, frequency. There is a flood across the taller girls ears that gives enough confidence that she goes forward with the gun. She squirts the collie who wants nothing more than to lap up the cool water directly in the mouth.

It gets worse. The dog growls slighly.

The taller girl says "What does that sound mean?"
The shorter girl looks very serious, certain the next whopper will be discounted.

"Dogs can't talk, it was asking for more."

Several minutes later, grounded again I sat down. I could not believe what could be believed.

I didn't have to  make this story up. I could have, but it really did happen.

Everyone is a storyteller. Everyone has stories. We live stories, we remember in stories, we dream in stories. We should value those stories. We should do our best to fill our lives with stories we like.

Terry Pratchett died. My favorite wordsmith will put no more words to page. His stories are profound and amazing. Perhaps there would be less war if people put down the books they fight for and picked up more Pratchett.

When you think of people and things that have changed your life profoundly, what comes to mind?

A story.

If I wish for nothing else, it is that you choose to realize that you write your story. You dream your dream. Why limit it? Why hide behind buts, excuses and somedays. If you wait until you retire to live, will you be alive to live? How many lives are lost before someone chooses to unfold and become themselves?

Do you need so much security that you forsake your life for money and safety? We grow when we face uncertainty and challenge? Are you happy? Are you challenging yourself? Are you surviving and growing?

Each day I wake up, I look around and assess what I can do to pay my bills, buy my food; and help others as I go. We are what we have to give. I live without guarantees or a safety net, but I live with friends and I enhance their lives as they enhance mine.

We share stories. We give each other memories and laughter. We are the reassurance we give each other that we ARE valuable and worthy and loved.

In the end, it is what we have.

Everyone has a thousand stories. Everyone is a thousand tales. Every one with merit and with beautiful highlights. Every one with bits we wish we could edit out or change parts of if only we had paid attention to foreshadowing.

Value stories. Value your lives. I do.