All this year has been about story, its power, and Story as a living thing. There’s a Greek word μῦθος, from where we get our word ‘myth’ that captures something of it’s nature: it is something worth being recorded, remembered, and retold. But even that falls short in true. Story is what sustains us. It’s what provides continuity throughout the triumphs and nadirs of our lives. It’s what connects us with everything and everyone that has come before. It’s what enables us to connect to those in our world now; and yet, it is so intensely personal.
I’d burn down the world to preserve the tales I tell myself. They’re that important to me, the stories I weave in the darkness of the night when I’m lulling myself to sleep, or the tales that enfold me, spinning out from day dreams. I have come to cherish my Stories enough that I’d sacrifice just about anyone or anything to preserve their integrity. It doesn’t matter how seemingly irrelevant or simplistic our stories are, they are precious and sacred.
I’m not talking about religious experience. I’m talking about our imagination’s ability to engage with storytelling, to experience through words another life, to be moved emotionally by another’s words, to create in our minds doorways to other places.
I value my interior life deeply. I always have. There is nothing more precious that I could share with someone. There is nothing more important save the Gods and the work I do for Them that I share. It has a value that goes well beyond the here and now, these threads of imagination and creativity that sustain like nothing else. They are, like the arts, the best part of our humanity.
We can remake ourselves through the stories we tell. This is partly why it’s so incredibly important to steep children in fairy tales and fantasy and literature. It provides nourishment on a fundamental level. Years ago I remember an argument with a fundamentalist Christian relative. She was dead set, adamantly so, against children being allowed to read any type of fiction especially fantasy. Imagination might free them from the chains of their monotheism of course. I was viscerally horrified at the mental and emotional paucity of what she would have encouraged in children, a type of prison for the mind, a crushing of the spirit. We need our stories to enable us to survive in the world.
Story has the ability to teach us. We gain power through their telling. It is an arena where we can fail and learn and grow and hopefully succeed gaining knowledge, power, and healing that we can bring back to this world to transform our lives. Story is how we pass on the knowledge and wisdom of the ancestors. It is how we forge connections to them to our Gods, to ourselves, to our world.
This is in part why I share my stories with very few people and why I grow so enraged when I’m reading and someone, however well meaning, insists on talking to me. I may not show my anger – usually it is either people who are lonely and want to connect or people who themselves don’t like to read who do this. I do my best to be patient and respond with kindness however painful the interruptions might be. When I am about to lose myself in another world, to crawl into another world where I can live and breath, love and thrive and someone forcibly drags me back to mundanity, it’s a very special kind of agony.
So tell your stories. Fall in love with certain books. Write your fanfictions. Keep a poetry journal. Take a stab at nanowrimo. Day dream. Become the hero or heroine of your own tale. Fall in love with words. It’s important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.