“When we hear each other’s stories, we begin to understand ourselves better and feel less alone. … When I tell my stories, it gives others permission to tell their own.” — Alma Flor Ada, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
Some people say that the world is made up of atoms and protons and electrons, whirling particles invisible to the naked eye that are the heart of matter. My world is made up of stories, narratives about my life and the way the Universe works that provide anecdotal evidence to a spiritual reality that matters to my heart.
I think in stories. My voice mails are stories. I shop for a new pair of shoes or a pound of asparagus and my mind projects scenarios onto the screen of my consciousness about how my purchases will materialize in my daily life. When something doesn’t go as well as I hoped, I rewrite the script in my head, polish up my dialogue or the way I responded to my cues so I can perform my role more effectively next time I take the stage.
Women are natural-born storytellers. It’s one way we share what we know, what we’ve learned. Stories are …
… our bequest to future generations. It’s how we profit from our mistakes. Isak Dinnesan, a prolific writer (Out of Africa) and a wildly adventuresome woman, believed that “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.” I believe that. Mark Twain once said “Books are the liberated spirits of men.” Had he been a woman, he might have altered that some and said “Stories are the liberated spirits of women.” I believe that, too.
Sometimes we tell stories because we think that if we can just explain ourselves, others will understand us, will agree with us, will come over to our side. Sometimes the stories we tell are an attempt to justify our mistakes, to take us off the hook. I think the stories we tell help us make sense of what’s going on in our lives and in the world, help us find a way to love life in all its various manifestations — even the darkness — and help others do the same. It’s how we share and bare the lives we live — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Women’s stories build bridges and open doors. They help others make connections and forge relationships. They help us feel less alone in our times of trial. At their very best, women’s stories stoke our longing, stimulate our desire to express our True Self and the unerring Grace that silently, lovingly surrounds us all.