I have always been a big fan of a good story. Actually, I can usually get hooked by just about any plot-line thick or thin. Movies or books, fiction or non-fiction… I like them all. I like hearing stories told and I like telling them. I’m not really sure why stories hold such appeal for me. Is it the prospect of temporarily removing one’s self from reality or is it the opportunity to gain knowledge of a new perspective? Is it an exercise in thought provoking imagery or simple mindless entertainment? I guess, for me, it can be all of these things and more, depending on the occasion and my mood.
I suppose story has been a part of humanity from the start. Cave dwellers pictographs thousands of year’s old, stories of the hunt acted out around a fire, passing along customs and traditions are all about telling stories.
Over the Christmas holiday I had the good fortune of spending time with extended family and catching up with all that is going on in their lives. My youngest daughter and 2 of her cousins are high school seniors so much of their current focus is concentrated on the college admissions process. One of the major topics of discussion turned out to be the all-important application essays. In fact, there was far more than discussion taking place… there was deep thought, writing, editing, rewriting and submissions throughout the week. Of course, I found their stories fascinating! No longer are these the children we once knew. These young adults now have definitive opinions, specific points of view and have great stories to tell. The competitiveness of the application process requires 100% of their creativity… they really brought their “A” writing games on vacation with them.
Being the nosy uncle and the critical Dad, I asked if could see their work and I’m really glad I did. Some of the essay themes were as straight-forward as “Why our school?” and others completely off the wall like “Where is Waldo, really?” As I am reading, and being entirely entertained by all, I came across my daughters essay titled “What childhood influences helped create the person you are today?” This should be good I thought. She began by describing her relationship with her older sister, their playroom antics and the make-believe games they would play there. She went on to describe her mother’s continuous love and comfort and the safe feeling she had in her home. She then continued by describing her Thursdays. You see, while my kids were little my only day off was Thursday so that was our time to spend together. Our Thursdays were described as working in the garden planting together. With dirt on my hands I would be push them on the swings I built in our back yard. Her story, our story began in our garden. As I read her account I realized that stories are not only something that we listen to or read. They are not only experienced and shared but they are made. Our actions, our decisions and our everyday activities affect and fashion the stories of others. I guess I always knew… we all know this to be the case but it became clearer to me in her words.
Your story may not begin in a garden. It may begin in a kitchen, in a garage or at a gym. It may be a story that began at the start or it may start at the end. In any case the story is what you make of it and with whom you make it with. The New Year offers us all an opportunity for a new beginning, a fresh start and is the perfect tie for a new story.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt.