Archive for the ‘stories’ Tag

Do You Need Me to Read You a Story?   2 comments

If you’re an adult you’re probably reacting to that question in one of two ways: either you are rather grumpy that I should ask you a question that’s for babies and children, or you are curious and ready to find out where the question leads.

Those of you with analytic minds may be wondering why I chose the word “need” instead of the more traditional “want.”

I love those analytical minds because you are already traveling toward the destination of this blog!

My daughter, almost an adult, has experienced a great deal of angst over the past five years about what she wants to do when she grows up.  What path should she chose?  Our culture demands that you know what you want by the time you are fourteen, and heaven forbid if you don’t have a firm career path mapped out by the time you’re a junior.  Also that career path will involve college; there are no other options.  If you haven’t already been busting your butt studying for the ACT/SAT, it’s too late; you won’t be able to get into a good enough school or pay for it, and then where will you be?  And, if you aren’t choosing a STEM major, what’s the point?  We all know that technology and medicine are where the high paying jobs are.  You’d be an idiot to pursue anything else.

At least, this is the message she’s been taking in.  I’m not 100% sure that’s the main message out there, but I’d agree that it’s pretty strong.

So, she’s graduated and is still feeling her way toward the future, while I remind her that life is what is happening right now, and as Allen Saunders famously remarked, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  As next steps, she’s working on life skills and has enrolled to take several courses at our local community college–a very practical and wise choice.  She’s considering a couple of paths in the liberal arts that involve art, writing and film-making, but has not been certain enough to commit to them yet.  So this is a good place to begin.

But here’s what I want to tell her, as she contemplates the practicalities of life in our society, the realities of someday making her own living, and as she thinks some more about what the interface is between what she loves doing and what our society seems to demand.

There cannot be a society without storytelling.

There cannot be a city, a community, a culture, a civilization.  It’s literally impossible.

No interrelated group of people can create a world together without having a shared story, and of course, having many of them.  We by definition need stories to tell us who we are and where we’re going.  I don’t know how one can get paid for writing a story.  Our culture doesn’t reward storytelling in the same monetary ways it does STEM fields.  However, the entire civilization we have rests on stories.

Stories are a very good place to begin.

Posted August 8, 2018 by swanatbagend in writing

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The Photos you Don’t Need   Leave a comment

I have a strange recommendation: print, keep, scrapbook with and otherwise save some of the photos you don’t like and don’t want.

I scrapbook, so these thoughts apply directly to those who also do so, but if you prefer to upload to Shutterfly and make a book, or to just print and drop in a box, consider this.

You probably select photos to work with based on their excellence: composition, color and print quality, were the kids smiling? do they help tell the story? are they of an occasion important enough to save? that stuff.  Most people select photos based on some kind of criteria, and nobody wants to use a photo that looks messy, has red-eye, or doesn’t fit into the overall plan for the page.

That’s understandable.

But if you only use the best photos, you will miss something good.

How do I know? I looked back through an album of mine from eight years ago. In the process, I discovered there was a six month period of our lives for which I only had one page. There were a couple of photos of the snowman the kids made in a spring snowstorm and there were several of my youngest son’s 6th birthday.  All well and good, except I thought to myself, where was the rest of our life?  What on earth happened, or didn’t happen, that I did not bother to record it?

Life had been so full that I had not looked at old pictures for years.  So I took the time to go through every file I could find that might have pictures from that six months.  I came out of that session with about 25 more pictures.

Oh, those red Cars slip ons that he used to wear every day!  I had forgotten all about them.  We went hiking out there?  Yes.  Oh, that was the day we couldn’t find the jackets and had to go back for the stuffed animal we left behind.  My children are eight years older now, and I am here to tell you, they were darn cute back then.  I found myself wondering why on earth I did not print these photographs.

I think it was because they just weren’t good enough.  They weren’t perfect enough.  But these are the images of the moments in which my life happened, the messy, glorious life I really had with my family.

Go ahead and print the goofy pictures of your family setting up the pop-up camper for the first time, including the one with dad’s back side as he’s bent over the trailer hitch.  Go ahead and print the ones where the kids aren’t looking at the camera or are poking each other or are rolling their eyes.  Go ahead and print the ones that don’t fit the theme.

You won’t regret it later.

 

Posted May 24, 2018 by swanatbagend in humor, parenting

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Why We Love Stories   Leave a comment

I went to the Word and Words conference two weeks ago.  Before I went, I did some thinking about the questions the conference description provided. Why do we love stories?  Why do we tell them?  And how do stories inform our lives as Christian believers?

I wanted to brainstorm first to see if I was resonating with the speakers’ thoughts already.  But I wouldn’t say these questions got directly asked or answered by any of them.

Why do I love stories?  and why does it matter?

I have always loved books.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love a book–the smell, the feel of the paper under my fingers, the varied fonts on the pages.  The rush when entering a bookstore.  The peaceful must of the basement stacks of a library. The glorious realization: a great author has a new book I have not read.

I read to my stuffed animals in the living room. They encircled me and the book of the day.  One of my early memories is the view of a book, wrapped as a present for me, on top of the dresser in my parents’ bedroom.  At summer sunup on my fifth birthday, I was begging for my book.  I can still see my mother’s head rising sleepily from her pillow.

And now I read throughout the day to my children.  It’s probably one of the main reasons I keep homeschooling them.  I just love to read, and we’ve found some fantastic books to enjoy together.  I read the Bible and one other book at dinner.  And I read at bedtime.  Right now the four of us still at home are taking turns with the demigod characters of Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus.  Yeah, there’s a whole lot of stories going on at our house, and that’s how it’s always been.

So, why do I love stories and storytelling?

As I made my way downtown the first night of the conference, these were my speculations:  Maybe we could better steward our time and energy if we didn’t spend them on something as simple as storytelling.  Maybe we should only meet needs, share the Gospel and work to change the world.  Wouldn’t that be more direct?  In a world so painful, wouldn’t that ease more wounds?

And what if storytelling is dangerous?  Stories can lead us to the wrong source; they can propel people toward empty cisterns.

At the conference, however, I was plunged into a gathering in which all loved words, stories, fairy tales.  Nobody appeared to feel the need to defend storytelling.

Aside from a religious pitch or a moral fable or a lecture on what we should do, it seems we can hear stories better.

I think we were made that way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted November 25, 2014 by swanatbagend in literature, writing

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