This blog is focuses on the power of story. That includes the wisdom that comes from paying attention to our family stories. It also includes ways that people put experience into story and how those stories get shaped and used.
Fiction is story that mirrors life. The complexity of human experience can only be expressed as story. That has been true since the start of time or when the first storyteller began the first story, which might be the same.
Parts of this blog include raw material for my memoir, ideas for my fiction and additional musings.
Watched the political conventions. Reminded me of Oscar Wilde who famously said: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
There was no lack of passion from the Republicans and/or the Democrats. Speaker after speaker argued that their point of view was the one all Americans (if they’re really Americans) ought to embrace.
All that passion aside, a week later, the only thing I remember are the stories. The mother whose baby needed another heart operation but who’d hit...
Learned today that some scholars think the Panchatantra is the origin of all fairy tales. That’s probably not entirely true, but it is one of the oldest sources. It was written in Sanskrit in the 3rd Century BCE by Vishna Sharma who gathered his material from even older versions. Tales from the Panchatantra have spread widely. Today they can be found from Java to Iceland.
The enduring/endearing power of folk tales is the subject of a chapter in my forthcoming book. When you look for family stories, you almost always find stories of the...
An older friend, retired now, signed-up to volunteer for a charity that required a half-day of sensitivity training.
Next day, he took me aside. “What’s wrong with the word ‘lady?’ My mother would have slapped me up-side my head if I didn’t show a woman proper respect.”
I tried to explain that to be a lady a woman is expected to conduct her life in a ladylike manner, following rules she didn’t necessarily make. There was a judgment implied. Who’s to say which women were ladies and which...
At dinner with friends, my husband mentioned Mad Men. He’s been catching up on that old television series. Our friend shook his head. He couldn’t watch that series. There was nothing about the fifties and early sixties that he wanted to relive. The conversation moved on. Maybe it’s a sign of having really moved on because I was home getting dressed for bed before I realized what he meant. He was a black man starting his career in the 1960s.
I was at a writers retreat in Washington State. Each writer had her own...
Took a class in the ART OF TRAVEL at University of Colorado recently. Not how to travel. The philosophy of travel–why we go; what we report, etc. etc. We talked about explorations, pilgrimages and tourism. In every case, unless someone recorded the adventure, it was lost to history. For example, we learned Lief Ericsson wasn’t the first Viking to arrive in America. According to the Vinland Sagas, he found evidence of earlier Viking settlements, maybe as far south as Hudson River Valley, but no one wrote of those adventures.
Our son announced that he wanted to be an animator when he was five years old, sitting on the couch, watching Saturday morning cartoons. “Fine,” we said, thinking he’d outgrow it. When he was sixteen, still watching Saturday morning cartoons, and still saying he wanted to be an animator, we started to wonder—where do you send your kid to college if he wants to make cartoons?
The answer is California Institute of the Arts, and he was lucky. He caught the leading edge of computer generated animation. Now working at...
“What’s the point?”
“And the moral of the story is . . .?”
Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think a story needs to prove a point or why bother. These are usually the same ones who think everything has to be useful, or it’s useless.
If you happen to come from a family with a strong religious background, you likely have two problems.
1. That engrained idea that stories have to have morals.
2. A family history so entwined with your religious tradition that there’s no way to...
We all have a 9/11 story.
We know where we were when the terrorists flew into the Twin Towers and forever changed life in America.
I was dressing to go exercise with a friend. I happened to have the television on in the bedroom. I hardly left that bedroom for the rest of the day, glued to that television.
My husband had flown to Boston the day before–rented a car–was engaged in business. He assumed by Friday when he was scheduled to fly home, the airlines would be flying again. He ended up driving his rental car from Boston to...
Stories give us wisdom which is better than knowledge and more useful than information. In fact, I’ve come to believe that story is the way we capture wisdom and hold onto it. With that in mind, let me share a few thoughts . . .
Truth gives us no comfort in time of trouble and no sense of direction. For that, you need good stories about how others handled hard times.
Good stories bend the details but always tell the truth. That’s because they’re about larger things.
Small people insist on the truth. Those who intend to live...
I gave my middle finger to a particularly deserving driver and my mother (sitting in the passenger seat) about had a heart attack.
Her generation valued “being a lady.”
Mine decided “ladies” don’t get noticed/make history/climb the corporate ladder/etc. etc. . . . you get the idea.
As a child, I was not supposed to be dramatic. Drama was for others with fewer manners. That was usually phrased as “a less refined upbringing.”
I was to never create a scene. There were better ways to handle...