Life in a story.
By Katie Gutierrez.
“My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of ‘Gone With the Wind’, and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Stories are the events that break us into pieces when they happen and make us whole again when they are retold.
Everything is a story: the metallic tapping of rain on the roof, the dust scintillating in the late autumn air, the piece of cobblestone you picked out of the construction rubble and Sharpied the date on to.
The day you finish telling your story will never come. They collapse inside themselves, lighting the way for the next words. The stories you will tell will collide with hundreds of others, in which you may play a starring role or a character with no lines.
But your role does not matter–what really touches you is listening to those stories. Only by listening can you continue your plot line; only by listening can you take the loose strings of people’s syntax and tie them into your own, creating an inextricable web that, when well-cared for, will never let you go.
“It’s up to you: Your voice will either be silenced or will get to roar.” –Maria Shriver
Can you hear the citizens of Syria screaming for freedom and peace and hope? Or the parents of children lost to bullying screaming for kindness? Or the ethereal whispers of the thick night’s silence of things to come before sunrise? I am begging you, tell the stories of those who cannot tell their own, and let those people be your teachers.
How many voices can you hear now?
“The world is made of stories, not atoms.” –Muriel Rukeyser
The world is ours to help and to hold, to heal, to sing, to dance with and to be with. The web is not complete without the strings of stories and the ties of listening. Life is our empty notebook, into which we can write love, hope, smiles and similes, and hang them up for the world to see.
We can manifest the idea that to live is to be, and not to succeed. We are insignificant and free to wander, and wonder, and that is such a freeing thing.
So, I will leave you with this thought: what world could we make for each other if we chose to carry the stories of all instead of just our own?
I am captured and captivated,
held prisoner on the sinking ship.
their words become my own.
Their insights give me power;
I eat stories like I eat chocolate.
As a being of words,
I take it upon myself
to listen and write
and live these stories —
you can’t copyright your soul, after all.
Give me your broken heart,
your lost child,
Give me those,
I will take them as
Lady Liberty takes
and your huddled masses
yearning to be free.
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