Today a friend shared a link to The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships, and mused that he wished we had such powerful writers to tell our stories.
For some reason, that felt odd to me. My quizzical response back was this: Aren’t we the powerful writers?
In the day of the storied writers, lives were conducted in studies and salons, cocktail parties and receptions. Friendships were made, nurtured and cemented over a period of years, through letters and occasional meetings, casual and intense intersections with each other, each building one to the next into a story, stitched together with the collective memories of close friends.
When my grandmother died, I tried to tell her story, but really only succeeded at the outline with very little shading. This is because there were whole chunks of her life that knew nothing about, joys and disappointments known only to her brothers and sisters, mother and father, and perhaps son and daughter. As the writer of her story, the best and most powerful testimony was who I was and what part she had in shaping me.
When it comes to writing my father’s story, I can only write about the tragic or mundane. Others have lighter, happier stories to spin, but they aren’t mine to tell, much less know.
Others’ stories can only be written to the extent that they are revealed to us. Or to the extent that we choose to reveal them.
When my story is written, there will be a long trail of electronic cues left behind with which to piece it together. But ultimately, the author of the real story is me, through what I write here, what I write to others, what I share on the web, in person, in 140 characters, sometimes in longer bits, with images, poetry, and memorabilia as illustration. We have amazing tools to tell our own stories in our own words, in real time. Stories of life, death, politics, joy, success, struggles, failure, family, art, love, and spirit.
My story may not be as powerfully told as those in the book, but it is still mine, and it’s powerful in its own way, in my own way.
If I were fortunate enough to choose a powerful writer to tell my story, the one I would choose is the girl with flowing curly hair who spins poetry of hope, disappointment, and resilience. She is a powerful storyteller, indeed.
Who will tell your story? You? Someone else? Where will they look for the illustrations, the facts? Will our blogs become the story, or be a tool for the storytellers?
There are many links in this post, each chosen for the weight and meaning the posts had to me…I hope you have the time to click through to a few and discover some delightful people writing their own stories. In real time.
- A reticent flower
- Equal Justice Matters, Unless You’re Bernie Madoff