C. Baldwin said, in "Storycatcher" (his piece on 'making sense of our lives through the power and practice of stories,') that "every person is born into life as a blank page - and leaves life a full book." In May 2017, MoonTree Studios discussed and experienced the power and practice of writing some of the stories from our own 'full books.' We encourage you to write YOUR stories!
Each of us have many unique and special roles during our lifetimes...some are long term (son/daughter, sister/brother, father/mother) while others may last for much shorter periods of time (neighbor, friend, colleague, caregiver.) Each of these roles impact our lives as well as the lives we touch - and within those interactions are stories. Important stories. Life-changing stories. And in many cases, these momentous, monumental stories remain locked inside us.
Most of us believe our 'little stories' are of little consequence and can't imagine why we should make an effort to tell them. What I would give to know how my grandparents met and became owners of a dairy farm...or details of my grandfather's early life on the Wood Mountain reservation in Canada! I never thought to ask my father the who, where, when and why and how of his whittling skills or why he so enjoyed being a tool and die maker...and now I'll always wonder what he would have said. When we're young, we are confident that there will always be time to ask these things...but there isn't. It's up to us Elders to tell the stories even without the questions.
If I haven't convinced you yet that you have wonderful stories that your loved ones will cherish, that your life experiences are of great value and interest, let me ask you a few questions:
- Do your family members, children, grandchildren know what you do/did for fun? To earn a living? To express your creativity? Could they explain it to someone else? (For example, I used to develop new erosion control materials from coconut fiber/coir; my young children told people I sold coconuts!) If not, then there are many stories you can create - whether in words or pictures - written, drawn, expressed in fabric - to pass these precious stories on to the younger generations.
- Where were you when John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated? When the Berlin Wall came down? When Challenger exploded? When the Towers fell? How old were you? Do you remember how you felt when watching these things on the television - or being on or near the scene? What did you do on the first Earth Day? Have you ever been in a sit-in or a protest? What pushed you to participate? How did these experiences change you? Change your perceptions? These stories are yours alone...no one else has had the same experience, the same emotion, or experienced the same changes as a result. These stories are powerful and can be priceless to others who hear or see them.
All of your answers to these questions are stories that will be treasured by generations to come. The goal, according to Baldwin, "is not necessarily to feel a tidy sense of closure about the story of one's life, with every loose end tied conveniently together. This may be how it is for some...but except in Hollywood perhaps, endings do not work this way. In fact, the greater the story, it can be argued, the messier the ending and the more open the closure; the more it points to larger stories beyond it (the human story, the cosmic story), and the more it leaves us pondering and wondering."
At MoonTree, we believe that the goal is to express our thoughts and memories so that those who come after us will know who we are/were as real people, not just "Mom" or "Papa," and isn't that what we all hope for? To be remembered?