Every three to six months, I have a personal crisis. What am I doing with my life, am I wasting my time, when did I get too old to be a prodigy…the usual panic. I wonder why I can’t be more disciplined, why I let myself settle, why I repeatedly watch four episodes of Doctor Who in a row while eating ice cream and ignoring the glare of my running shoes.
I wonder if I’ll ever make a mark on this world.
Then I think about how much I love stories. I love silly timey-wimey stories on Doctor Who. I love the daily stories of my co-workers each morning. I love the true and less-true stories people tell in books and in blogs. My life is wrapped in stories read, watched, told, and heard.
I think to devote one’s life to stories is a very good use of a life.
There’s this guy I listen to (far less than I actually should), and he really liked to tell stories. He lived in a culture with a vibrant oral tradition, because book knowledge was written down and squirreled away, only to be read by priests. The people made their own knowledge in stories. This guy came along, and he hung out with normal folks, and he told them stories about God and about themselves. He told them that their histories mattered, that their own personal stories had deep spiritual and communal value. And he told them that those old men, safe and secure, do not hold the keys to the kingdom. The keys are inside of the people. In their stories.
The keys to the kingdom are inside of the people. And I want to know their stories.
I believe that stories are the key to understanding each other and this world. I believe that everyone’s stories have value, and once a person knows her story has value, she will feel valuable. I believe that stories give us insight, help us connect, and aid us in assigning meaning. They make us care. I know shiny things are the currency of the world, but without stories, we are nothing.
Sara Kelm, Writer.
Fort Worth, TX.