As a writer I am always happy to hear from readers and it has occurred to me more than once that what I love best is the fact that so many readers share their stories with me. Often they do this because something in one of my books has touched a chord in them–that of memory, that of love, that of pain. I realize what a privilege it is to have people share in that way, to tell me of something personal, of something which has impacted their life deeply, echoing into the present day. We are all an accumulation of stories. From our first breath to our last, we tell of our experiences, our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams and our sorrows. And while we often feel our story matters only to us and those who love us, it’s really not true. There are times our story will help another through a difficult time or allow them to see a bit of hope somewhere on the horizon. We have to be willing to be vulnerable though, to have story tell truth. I think we need to be willing to lose something, to give some part of ourselves away with the understanding we may get nothing in return–or we might get everything, for that is the risk of telling your soul in story.
And so what is story? Story is the collective experience and the deep buried truths of being human. I mean the really old primordial truths, the ones which come clothed in fur and long teeth, flashing with razor-sharp claws and ancient scales. Story is loss, renewal, pain, joy, hope, disappointment, grief as deep as the sea and every bit as wide.
Story is heat, it is fire–the old one, the flame of the ancient mind, the place where we huddle when all the world falls apart around us. Story is a well, where we are drawn down at the end of a creaking rope into deep waters–those of the unconscious, thick-dark as ink, glowing with the beginnings of life.
Story is comfort. It keeps the night at bay, so that we might shelter for a bit from a world that often seems too fast, too ugly, too concerned with the matters of commerce, disconnected from that of spirit. It is the lantern at the dark forest edge.
This is a time of intense vulnerability. A time that will long be part of our story, both the personal and the collective. It is a time to sink deep, reconnect with our inner landscape, find our old touchstones, to warm ourselves by the flame of collective experience, of story passed from grandmother to granddaughter, to breathe upon the embers of soul and re-ignite the fire of deep time thought.
At times I imagine this sheltering in place is a time to dwell within the crone hut of the mind, the way back mind, the one deep in the forest of subconscious. The crone knows all the old stories–the dark ones with blood upon the ground, where all is lost only to be found again at the end. On her table is a scrying stone of darkest obsidian, where we can see our reflection–the true one which is that of soul. It is here we get old time instruction from the crone, which are the things of the earth and our place within it. We have forgotten that, but she has her ways of reminding us.
To tell story is to plumb the depths of our pain and to mine the gold of our joy–to tell story is to warn, to heal, to guide. We all do it, every day, in all the small tales that we spin and speak. It is to bind our brokenness and move forward with our cracks in the knowledge that all is as it should be.
This time will long be part of our story, both the personal and the collective. Story is useful, particularly those of people who have lived through this sort of thing before, even if it’s only written down somewhere, like tracks in the winter snow that we can follow until we find our way back to spring.
And that is what we are all doing right now–huddling by the fire of story, hoping to escape the worst of winter’s cold and find our way out to spring. So what I am saying is this– keep telling me your stories and I will keep telling you mine. Story matters, story is who we are.