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 opioid 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.
What can I do to stop slaying stories?
I can choose order.
Our stories bring order to chaos. By that I mean, 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 an open hand.
I can stay awake.
Staying awake means I am not numb to the pain of others or of myself. To stay awake I must get outdoors. In nature my entire being feels full and enough. To stay awake I must gather and tell stories. There are a few things I always ask strangers. I ask couples how they met. I ask people sitting alone what brings them to the place where we meet. I ask bartenders and Uber drivers what is the craziest thing that has happened to them while working. I ask people in the elevator the name of their dog. Asking people these simple questions has taught me: all people love to be seen and heard, there is wisdom everywhere, and people are generally kind.
I can finish what I start.
I currently have about 9 hours of recorded conversations about gratitude ready to transcribe. Transcribing these interviews will be the next phase of a book project I have been working on since July of 2016 in which I have talked with more than 20 people from various walks of life about gratitude. I conducted the last few interviews (the ones I have yet to transcribe) in the Winter of 2017. Those interviews are stories that need to be shared. I am truly grateful for the time and attention these amazing people gave to me. I believe in my heart the world needs to focus on meaningful ideas like gratitude right now, and that if we all shine our light the dark will not win. I need to finish what I have started.
I can conjure magic.
I conjure magic when I share my story and the story of others. When I share stories with strangers the world gets a little smaller and gentler. When I share my failure stories, people share their stories of when things don’t work out as planned and there is strength found in our common experience. When I share my Turner syndrome story, people share stories of their own health struggles and we all feel less scared and alone. There is magic in connection. There is magic in story.