Confessions of a Story Slayer

Finding Light In Dark Times

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Vintage image of a sad angel on a cemetery. Ancient statue.
Vintage image of a sad angel on a cemetery. Ancient statue.

Slay: 1. to kill by violence. 2. to destroy; extinguish.

A standard definition of “to slay”

Stories are being slayed left and right in our world. The stories of refugees seeking safety. The stories of innocent lives lost to gun violence. The stories of families suffering addiction. The stories of people dying without access to healthcare. The stories of a planet gasping for life. Silencing stories leads to fear and ignorance. Silencing stories leads to pain and suffering. Silencing stories leads to loneliness and isolation. Silencing stories leads to dehumanization and cruelty. Silencing stories leads to death.

I am a story slayer.

I am a story slayer when I do not pay attention to my world. I am a story slayer when I do not use my time and talent to share, connect, and tell. I am a slayer of stories when I learn of pain and my shock and silence overtakes action. I am slayer of stories when my anger festers and remains in my head and heart rather than becoming fire to change my world. I am a slayer of stories when I choose despair not resistance, fear not grace, sadness not hope.

How do I stop slaying stories?

I choose order.

Our stories bring order to chaos. Order not as the absence of conflict or suffering, but the flow of falling apart and coming together that is life itself. There is an order to deep understanding and love that turns chaos into peace. When we know each other, difference is strength. When we know each other, peace creates justice. When we know each other, we don’t have to sing the same song to be in harmony. When we know each other, fists become open hands. There is order in justice, harmony, and an open hand. In that way, stories bring order.

I stay awake.

Stories wake me up. Staying awake means I am not numb to the pain of others or myself. To stay awake I must get outdoors. In nature, my entire being feels full and enough. In a city, the rhythm of it all connects me to my song. To stay awake I must gather and tell stories. If I was a cat, Curiosity would have killed me long ago. Curiosity has taught me: in general, people want to be seen and heard, there is wisdom everywhere, and people are kind.

I finish what I start.

I used to believe that starts were more important than finishes. Let me explain. Simply starting — being in the arena— is important. If we are never in the arena, we never have to risk, leap, fall, or fail. Starting is important as an antidote to fear, cynicism and paralysis. Starting subverts the tyranny of perfection. There is another side. If we never start we never finish. We never see something through. We never learn from the arc of experience. We never taste the sweetness of completion. In that way, starting and finishing are the whole story – the beginning, middle, and end. To stop slaying stories, I commit to the beginning, middle, and the end.

I conjure magic.

I conjure magic when I share my story and the story of others. When I share stories, the world gets a little smaller and gentler. When I share stories, there is strength and grace in our common experience. When I share stories, we all feel less scared and alone. When we I share stories, and someone listens, really listens, empathy happens. There is magic in connection. There is magic in story.

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