Story (P.S.)

NaBloPoMo_1114_298x255_blogroll Post Script:  I spent quite a bit of time yesterday, thinking and writing about the idea of story. At the end of the day, I had a lot of notes and nothing that I was happy with, nothing that captured what I had been thinking. But because I am committed to posting every day this month, I posted a small, bilious section. This morning I chose to take most of it down. I will leave two quotes from the work of others who have influenced my thinking. Here they are:

Creative non-fiction, also known as memoir, is a popular form of writing these days.  In the introduction to her book, Old Friend from Far Away (title taken from the writings of Confucius) Natalie Goldberg says of the word memoir: “ It comes from the French mémoire. It is the study of memory, structured on the meandering way we remember. Essentially it is an examination of the zigzag nature of how our mind works.”

When I was young, I read the work of the great Joseph Campbell, author of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I found his theories fascinating and they made a lot of sense. [Based on decades of research, Campbell postulated that there are two basic plot lines for all stories.  One is ] “… The Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through all of humanity’s mythic traditions…”

 

My ‘story’

My story.  The things I hold onto, that I repeat, to myself and to others, have created and continue to create my story.  Right now I am tired of the story I’ve been creating.  I do believe that bringing events to the surface, exposing them to the light of day and examining them is a vital step in the process of releasing the hurt and moving on.  On an intellectual level, I see the necessity and merits of this activity.  I shall continue to de-construct shame.

However, I am also remembering that the more I tell a story, to myself or others, the more solid it can become, the more it becomes my story.  My identity.  “This is who I am.”  Injured party, wronged individual.  Even if I stop short of a full pity party, “oh poor me”, I have contributed to my own pain by claiming ‘the down side’ as my story.  I have an aversion to cover-ups, born of the superficial and controlling  ‘make it look good’ & ‘as long as it looks good’ atmosphere of my childhood.  But I am wondering if a determination not to gloss over the hurts has kept me in a negative headset for far too long.

 
Can I also claim, as my identity, as my story, the fact that I wrote poems as a girl or that I loved to sing or that for almost ten years we produced real plays in my family’s garage?  Can I claim as my story that I loved the local library and reading was my greatest joy?  Can I claim as my identity the unparalleled bliss of trudging around my grandparents farm, through field and pasture, up the hillside and down by the brook?  May I claim the social and physical pleasures of Girl Scouting:  companionship, camping, hiking, orienteering, canoeing, swimming, archery and tying knots?

 
Answer: yes, of course I can.  Because those and other positive events, combined with the hurts and indignities, are what shaped me into the woman I am.  You can’t bake using just dry ingredients; you have to add the wet ingredients and stir.  Don’t over mix, there will be a few lumps.  Or perhaps the recipe calls for beating until the batter is smooth and silky.  However you blend the disparate ingredients, combining is required.  Even if you are layering elements in a casserole, it is the magic of the parts co-mingling that makes the the whole thing work.  That is the chemistry of cooking and an apt metaphor for how I wish to re-construct my life, to tell and own my story.

 

PS:  Check out this wonderful photo a friend took, when she used one of my EAW kitchen towels to cover the resting dough of her Buttermilk Bread!  Love it!

grapestowelw:dough