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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

story making

Stories enchant. When I was little I was fortunate to have a mom who made time to read stories to us .. when I was four she taught me how to read… and by the time I was seven, stories engrossed me so entirely that my family would have to practically shout and wave or have the house burn down for me to be able to pull my eyes off the page. I was charmed, enchanted, pulled into worlds and lives different and strange from my own.. which, somehow, became my own. I lived each of these stories, learned about myself and my world from them… they are as deep in me as any of the facts of my life.

Every night stories overtake me yet again. In dream. Dreams, something I am assured that every single human being does whether they remember in the morning or not… dreams bear witness to the deep, profound importance of stories in our lives. Remembering our dreams, we puzzle over them, knowing somehow that these stories hold keys to understanding our lives… that though they are full of mystery, yet they are full of meaning as well.

We are born dreamers… it follows, clearly, that we are born storytellers.. and born story readers. Stories fill our lives, coming to us in books, movies, theater… on the news, through history, television, gossip… what did he do? What did she say? How did it happen? How did they get through it? What does this story help me to know? It appears to me that it is largely through stories that we both understand and re-imagine our world.

500 years ago, Shakespeare created stories… he created them not only from his extraordinary mind, but he himself was pulled to stories from an older age.. he retold them, but this time, with a sense of language and insight into human beings that was dazzling in its depth. Today, despite the barriers of those 500 years, despite the poetic language which so distant from our modern English that it could just as well be a foreign tongue.. we still go to listen to his stories, our actors still undertake their difficulties and attempt to bring them to us with their meanings intact. We can feel that there is something in these stories which, like our dreams, is filled with meaning, cloaked in mystery, and which may somehow be, in a way that is hard to understand, important to our lives.

Perhaps the best stories, and I’d put Shakespeare’s among them, move past our daylight minds and speak, in a language we don’t fully comprehend, to the dreamer, the wakened watching dreamer in each of us.

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