Please, don’t stop…

Stories seduce, and I, I fall freely into their embrace. To revel and despair as they bid me, to endure and delight at their mercy. And while they surge on a hidden course too compelling not to explore, there is no obstacle insurmountable. No danger or evil too perilous to face. No broken heart beyond repair. Is it any wonder I go willingly? Or that I tremble as I do?

As lives unfold and faces grow familiar, each dutifully brings voice to all that is good and bad within the world. Mine as well as theirs. Stories told within stories birth the desperate wish for glory and redemption, for restoration to safety and happiness, and I remain their breathless captive. Rage, love and anguish felt on their behalf make me persevere. Page after page, until they are triumphant. Vindication! It was right to believe. Right to hold out hope. With them I am freed. All is right once more, and better than it ever was before. Predictable, and yet… infinitely more complex and surprising than promised at first.

Somehow, mingled with this beautifully sweet exultance, there is a deep resentful sorrow, acrid with the pang of parting. It is, after all, their lives I have lived. Their tears I have shed. Their blood I have spilled, and I do not wish to leave them now that finally they are home. But stories hold no care for what becomes of their audience after the final words are wrought. We do not belong there and are not intended to linger, but rather to move on to the next and be spellbound anew. Such is the nature of stories, and perhaps for most this is enough. More than enough. But for me it is a reluctant extraction back to a reality that seems lackluster in comparison. I do not want other stories. I want more of this one. Please?

Nevertheless, beloved voices must needs eventually fade into an unwritten everafter into which I cannot follow. They remain, together, living perpetually in the grace of their final glory, while I, a mere mortal from a far more ephemeral world, must part. After everything we have been through together, there is no more. And the loss is mine, and mine alone.That is perhaps the hardest part, that sudden sense of loneliness while memories and emotions linger still. Like dying embers of a once life-giving fire, still kindling enough warmth to whispering alluringly to me. That impending void is a chasm of grief that rivals any peril lived with the story itself. Worse, its only ending is Time’s slow numbing of memory and the awkward awareness that it will happen whether I wish it or not.

Still, relentlessly, I covet the seduction nonetheless. There is, I think, a madness, as well as a blessing, shrouded within the gift of imagination. After all, how else can one defend in sound mind the pursuit of an inevitable and heartbreaking end? 

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Please, don’t stop…

Storytelling and its healing power

“Once upon a time…”

That is how this entry ought to start, because what I want to share is a story. A story of being lost and finding the way back home. But too, it is a story about telling stories and why I do, and in that sense I suppose the classical fairytale opening had better wait for next time.

For as long as there has been language, storytelling has been our closest companion. It has kept the ancients alive and the gods close, predicted the future, kept hearts full of hope, enemies inferior and long hours a little shorter. It has born love into legends, birthed more heroes and villains than have ever walked the Earth, and it continues its gentle persistant attempt even today in this digitalised age to teach us that yesterday will come again tomorrow, if we do nothing to heed the lessons of today.

The greastest mercy of storytelling though perhaps is its benevolence in accepting whatever audience is willing to listen. How often have the ears of a teddy bear given solace to one who needed to be heard? And how often have you seen a young child playing alone, yet rigorously chatting away with dolls or animals, convinced of the participation of its audience? Even to the point of giving both pet and inanimate object a voice of their own to respond to the tales shared. Have we not heard of isolated souls driven to mutter stories to themselves in the dark… on a bench in the park or in a house that no longer is as full of life, as it once was?

As bloggers we become merely one more extention of this ageless custom of telling stories to perceived audiences. More or less cohesive ramblings and observations foster questions we rhetorically answer on behalf of those we hope to be listening. The audience we tell ourselves is there. The audience we miss and need so much, we – like the child at play or the lonely old man – are willing and capable of making it up.

Yes, even when no one else will or can listen, we create an audience to validate the need to keep telling all these stories that mean so much to us. Stories that give sound to our heart of hearts and inner voice over the din of life and whatever challenges we face. And so, we become our own flawed heroes, our own redeemed villains.

The past couple of months have given rise to these thoughts in me. Death and severe illness of loved ones, disruptions of a kind that leaves normalcy in ruins and priorities in shambles. In this, I have thought of stories. Of preserving and passing on the wisdom of one generation to the next before it is too late. Of the narcissistic need at times to take center stage and leave an impression on those whose love I so desperately need. Of reiterating and asserting my own presence when life threatens to drown me and wash away any sign I was ever here. Of the wish to connect, to be heard, to touch and be touched… and of existing even in the smallest memory in someone else’s head in the hope that it may just keep me – and my stories – immortal.

The reasons and logic behind all these drives are simple enough to comprehend, and I realised that above and beyond them,… like a single red thread… lies the innate subconscious understanding that without stories, we may just go insane. We need them as much as they need us. They heal us of the injustices done to us, when we can recount our victories and triumphs. They redeem us, when we can tell of survival in the wake of loss and destruction. They release us from the confinement of loneliness. Stories heal the paralysis of fear, sin and shame by calling out the beasts into the light and showing us a way to salvation.

In this I came face to face with my own feeble self. I saw the predictability of my own mentality. The repeating circles of challenge, resignation, resistance, struggle and conquest. I saw the part storytelling takes in that process, and realised I am not all that different from neither the child talking to her dolls, or the old man muttering to himself on a park bench.

Whatever stories I tell, whether they are real or made up, they embody the best and the worst of me – and as long as I can say those things out loud, the weak in me can find solace in the tenacity of the strong. My frailty can find strength in the surge of something greater and more powerful than what holds me back. My blindness can gain sight through the eyes of others, and my muteness can speak the secrets that shame hides both from me and from the world around me.

In telling stories I heal and find my way back home.

“… and I lived happily everafter.”

The end.

Storytelling and its healing power

From the Unexplored Wilderness…

Beautiful Blogger Award

… this little badge and nudge suddenly landed in my lap… and never really having been one to “do” those ”pass-along” posts I just sat staring at it befuddled, not entirely sure what to do – but definitely experiencing that “damn-she-got-me” feeling… *chuckles* Still, there are a lot of “firsts” in my daily life at the moment, and why not add one more? Especially, since it’s urged by the lovely and talented Renee over there in the Wilderness.

I don’t know what exactly this award means, or where it comes from. Or even who started it. But recently I have been reminded repeatedly of how the world around us changes with what we pass along to it, and frankly… I think I am long overdue for passing out some appreciation to some of those wonderful people whose words and thoughts inspire mine.

I have no idea whether the people on this list will choose to take it up and pass it on – in some cases, I am not even sure whether they read my blog. But *I* read theirs – and enjoy it immensely, even if I don’t comment (much). So, these are my unsung heroes….

And now,… *drum roll* … the awards go to:

1. Emily of Pajama Days – because she has an incredible way of making everyday life and things too often overlooked special, and she does it with such heart, wit and insight … I love her posts!

2. Kathy of Lake Superior Spirit – because in so many ways she reminds me of myself.

3. Sam of The No Niche – because I love his thought-provoking writing.

4. whirlwindofemotions of Whirlwind of Emotions – because I adore her posts and comments and she doesn’t write nearly enough!! Yes, that’s a hint!! LOL Take it!

5. tsuchigari of My Literary Quest – because not only does she write great blogs about interesting topics, she also shares writing tips and insight that I find extremely useful (not least of all because English isn’t my native language).

6. Mihir of One Line @ A Time – because simplicity and words don’t always mix so well… yet here they do.

7. Abigail of Abigail Thompson Photography – because apart from the quirky, witty remarks and ponderings that follows her images, I admire her creative well of ideas and her means of expressing them.

8. Judy of Just Enjoy Him – because in her blog I find perspective and new ways of looking at things. And to me that is one of the major inspirations both for reading and writing.

9. Reudor of Thinkering – because his strips are just plain funny!

10. Sven of Sven Seebeck Photography – for his beautiful images and neat tips and tricks on photography

I do want to mention, though, that Renee and her wilderness would actually have figured quite prominently on this list if she had not beaten me to the punch. We all need a place to “get lost” … to go exploring… and to find ourselves and our way back home again every so often… and all of these wonderful bloggers help me do just that – including Renee.

So, THANK YOU all of you!

Now, that was the easy part… apparent I am also supposed to come up with 10 things about myself that people “out there” probably don’t know. Which should be totally easy… but somehow just isn’t.

1. My grandma (maternal) is my biggest hero. She is the heart and soul of my family, the cornerstone and gathering point we all converge around, and she is just the sweetest most compassionate person I have ever been blessed to know. She turned 80 in February and still lives in her own (big) house, tending her own (big) garden – including the veggie patch, takes computer classes and helps out in a cafe for eldery people in a retirement facility. She is so busy, doing things and going places and experiencing things that we literally have to call and make an appointment to see her – or she won’t be home *grins* I LOVE my grandma! She is SO cool!

2. I’m a virgo – and it shows sporadically. I used to be much more of a neat freak, organising everything than I am now, but I still fall victim to my own “virgo-spells” now and then and start these massive clean-out-clean-up projects now and then, and don’t realise until I am exactly halfway through that perhaps I was being a little too ambitious…

3. I love to be on my own. I am in many ways a loner at heart. Travelling, going on vacation and just being out and about exploring on my own is perhaps one of the things I cherish most of all. I never find it awkward and though it is fun to share experiences with others, I also value the opportunity of doing it alone.

4. I am allergic to potatoes. Which is very weird and a big problem when you’re a Dane. Potatoes are a HUGE part of the normal diet here, and everyone likes and eats them, so it can be really awkward when invited over to dinner somewhere new and they didn’t realise that I won’t be able to eat half the food they’re serving…

5. I sea-kayak for fun in the summer, and love being on and by the water… but I absolutely hate being in it. I don’t really like swimming and I never swim in the sea.

6. I love a man who lives in the States. Which is a really long way away…

7. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was in my late 20’ies. You can get a license here when you turn 18 but I never really felt like I wanted it until then.

8. Years ago I stuck my toe in Lake Huron in Ontario Canada in March just to test if the water was really cold. I guess the fact that we had to break through the ice by the shore to actually GET TO the water should have been a clue…

9. Butterflies make me think of my brother. He committed suicide in November 2004 and at his funeral there was a butterfly in the church. Usually, they never make it past late September here… but that one apparently did. So, now I can’t see a butterfly without thinking of him. And sometimes, it doesn’t even hurt all that much…

10. Writing lists like this makes me feel vulnerable – like I want to go back an edit stuff. But I am glad that I did write it, and I promise not to start erasing and editing … for now 😉

Thanks, Renee – for the tag and opportunity to do this. And keep up the good work on your blog!!

From the Unexplored Wilderness…