Storytelling is magical. That moment when you know the audience is completely enthralled. They begin to mimic facial expressions of the story characters as they listen. An invisible screen lowers and their eyes become dreamy and unfocussed as they watch the story unfold in the theatre of their imagination. Magic.
No-one taught our children how to do that, it was instinctive. They didn’t know my voice would transport them to Narnia as they snuggled on the couch. It just happened. They delighted in the voices I created for each character, they giggled and gasped and wept, living every moment. Now, with children of their own, they read ‘with the voices’ for them, and the magic continues.
My love of storytelling started, as a child, in Wales. Welsh people love to memorise poems, tell stories and sing songs, they gather together in homes and churches and concert halls to perform.
You’d think it’s a love of performing, huge egos wanting to show off, but it’s not. I believe they, like me, all long for the moment when the room around them disappears and they enter, briefly, into the magical world that is being spun and woven by the words spoken or sung. Magic.
I married an Aussie who played drums in a Rock and Roll band. He had a passion for music but had only read two books. He was dyslexic, reading was boring. The guy in the hat, I know right?
Enter a young Welsh girl who devoured books, wrote songs, stories and poems and spent more time in the imaginary world than Alice down the rabbit hole.
Don’t worry it all worked out, we’ve been married now for forty years. He got swept up in the magic along with our children. You see my husband would snuggle up on the couch too. He chorused “Oh!” with them in frustration when the chapter ended. It drove him to read for himself, he had to know what was going to happen next. These days he consumes books and loves to go and live in the worlds created by authors. Magic.
This week, as I listened to various people talking about the art of writing, (instead of writing myself) two words resonated with me. Words do that to me sometimes. They arrive with a small trumpeting fanfare, leaving me wondering why on earth they are saying “Ta da!”
If I’m paying attention, I sit with those words and allow myself to wonder.
Isolation has been playing games with my head. I have hardly written anything. I write ‘morning pages’(shout out to Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way) and then the energy, that was there to get me up early, vanishes along with the morning mist. I am left with a restless lethargy, wanting to create something, but not words. It’s as if I might take some of the virus into that sacred space and ruin it forever. (Did I mention Welsh people are dramatic?)
Of course the virus won’t infect the words, I don’t even have the virus, at least I hope not. I crocheted a small square the other day, instead of writing, just to see if I remembered how to crochet. I did. I told myself I was still being creative, just not using words. I suddenly wanted to crochet a weather blanket, a huge undertaking. I recognised the gaping rabbit hole and avoided it.
The first word was ‘Belonging.’
My sense of belonging in this world is centred around my husband, my children and their families. My husband is working from home for now. Being cut off from our children and their families physically is having an affect on my sense of belonging in this world. I miss them so much that if I think about it too much, it’s hard to breathe.
I’m working hard not to let myself imagine life without them, or them without me, because I have, and I ended up in a puddle in a very dark place. I recognise that I am grieving for life before Covid 19. This restless lethargy is my response to grief and I am being kind to myself. I will crochet or write or rest, whatever is required. The magic is still there waiting.
The second word was ‘Reasoning.’
We are creatures who want to know why. We need to figure out how things work, to makes sense of the world. It’s instinctive. How deep is the ocean? How do fish swim? How do birds fly? How long will this virus last? When will our lives be normal again?
When I was in high school, I couldn’t do maths to save myself, I still can’t. It just didn’t make sense, I couldn’t see the reason for it.
There was no magic in maths. When I questioned why the teacher would say, “It’s just a fact.”
For example Pythagorus’ Theorem. I wasn’t interested in triangles and I just didn’t get it. Who was Pythagorus? Was he married? Did he have children? Did his children understand his theorem? I would imagine his whole life story and completely miss what the teacher was saying. Reasoning, for me, is all about understanding the story. That’s where the magic is.
Belonging and Reasoning, two magical words filled with stories of their own.
It’s what storytelling is all about. Making sense of the world, reasoning, finding the story behind the story. Creating worlds, made with words, where everyone belongs.
From my ivory tower to yours dear reader, I share this quote from Roald Dahl.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”