the importance of stories

I have been trying to write more lately. Actually, I write three pages everyday in my journal. I started doing morning pages sometime in 1998 or 1999 when I attempted to do The Artist’s Way for the first time. I thought that I would never be able to commit to writing three pages like she suggests. But I found that I was addicted almost immediately. I did not get beyond the fourth week of exercises in the book, but the morning pages stuck. Now I have a box full of journals tucked away.

My main problem is that I can easily write a short essay, like a blog entry, or free-flow writing, as in my journal. But it has been a while since I have written something bigger, something with meaning and something that ties together several ideas and events. So I have been working on writing a memoir of the last few years. Fortunately I have a plethora of captured thoughts and ideas available in my journals.

When I went home this weekend, I gathered the journals that fall into my designated time frame and brought them back to DC with me. This morning, I read through one of my notebooks where I had collected quotes from various books that I was reading for my graduate work. I found the following quote, which continues to speak volumes to me. Although I must admit that I do not remember reading Motivating Your Students: Before You Can Teach Them, You Have to Reach Them by Hanoch McCarty and Frank Siccone.

(p. 75) Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us live a life worth remembering. Despite the awesome powers of technology many of us still do not live very well. We need to listen to each other’s stories once again.

(p. 76) Everybody has a story… Each one of us has a story, whether it is visible to the eye or locked inside of us. We are encouraged to believe that our past, our circumstances, both physical and emotional, and our experiences are our story. Our mental picture to be true about ourselves and our possibilities.

Good stories, like the best mentors in our lives, are door openers. They are unique experiences containing insights tied to emotional triggers that get our attention and stay in our memories. These stories can free us from being bound to decisions of the past and open us to understanding ourselves and the opportunities that are there before us. A really good story allows us to recognize the choices that are open to us and see new alternatives we might never have seen in any other way. It can give us permission to try a new path.

This third paragraph is my favorite. The words are so true and help me realize that I shouldn’t give up on writing my story, despite how difficult it might be.

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