The Concept of Story

It’s important, isn’t it? To you and you and you. There in the back, I bet you’ve been fired from a call-center job, cus you spent an hour and a half on the phone actually listening, listening past the consumer complaint to the tale of how this middle-aged housewife’s grandfather brought the honed craft of home-made rocking-chairs across the sea with him, and still builds them with his big, worn hands.

She didn’t care anymore that the product was faulty, and she never learned you aren’t even from the company who produced it, but rather from another company who contracts out for money to ‘resolve’ this firm’s complaints. You took your walk of shame down the cubicle aisles, head held high cus you know somehow you did right.

You still have that conviction.

Our cultural imperative may be to push the efficiency/profit margin, but there’s always been troubadors under the harsh flouorescent who pipe irreverence and listen for echoes from the human heart. No matter how thick the veil gets, they hold it in the back of their heads like a small, magic seed: Nothing can trump the truth of the human condition.

Most of what is important to the secret soul doesn’t reflect in our life pursuits. People walk amidst the seen and unseen, and still, cliche or no, the story’s the thing.

You were in the grocery. She picked up the soup can and set it down again. It was blue, and minestrone. She put it in the wrong place, among the vegetable-barley, and stood staring into the rows of Progresso as if the tableau haunted her.

Do you go, ‘How strange?’ and say excuse me, as you brush past?

Or do you wanna know? Why? Why did she do that? What is she thinking? Is she shell-shocked from something? Does the soup speak words to her that you can’t hear? Is it a metaphor for her entire life today? Has the trap door just fallen out of a faintly beating heart? Is she about to do something unthinkable?

What. is. the. story?

I think the craziest thing about our culture nowadays is that we’re not supposed to appear to care.

What a mutant adaption. “Live your own life.” Ā Colorless island though it may be without Puss in Boots and Peter Pan waiting just around the corner. Without the thrust to know, and acknowledgement that it is important- what motivates people, what moves them past the farthest edge? Art is the act of watching it unfold, and capturing one moment; rendering all the emotion and meaning of that one moment accessible for generations to come. Art doesn’t exist without the story. Story doesn’t exist without giving a damn.

You there, I saw you scribbling in the margins when you went to do your taxes. Some mix of words caught up in your head and twisted around like a cyclone. Words were ranging past your ears like a dull thud, and then some fritz alighted in your mind. The words began to dance, fierce and hostile, and then the numbers were a staccato jive, and you realized there’s a reason you’ve never seen antelopes pound the savanna plains.

You’ve been mad at yourself forever, cus the chance was big as a marquee sign, but still you went right.. right.. right, just like all the cars went into the full line on the toll-road. You weren’t a sheep, you were a scared pedestrian and you had to find a way to move forward. But now you want to crumple precious papers and let the light swing out from your elven eye.

There’s still story queuing hard to fill your pages. Let them come.


10 thoughts on “The Concept of Story

  1. From someone who is, too often, stopping to listen to the story, you’ve captured an important morsel of life. It’s so important to stop and listen to the world around us and the people around us. We each have a story to tell and we each need someone to listen. By listening, we enrich our lives and those that we listen to.

  2. The way your words move me along is just… well, I don’t know. I haven’t the words for it. Perhaps that’s why I take pictures and leave the words to those like yourself who have a great talent for using them so they tell a story that moves a person along. As Corina said, you captured an important morsel of life.

    The stories are what I miss most now that I’m not working (outside of the home). I used to get the evil eye from my boss quite frequently for taking too long with a customer when I worked in the pharmacy.

    There was an elderly woman who nobody liked to wait on because she was steely-eyed and stiff-lipped, and she could really give you hell if things weren’t done right. I would always go to the counter to check her out or help her because nobody else wanted to. After a few weeks of seeing her frequently as she picked up medication after medication for her husband, she started talking to me little by little. Her husband was dying and she didn’t have anyone around to help her out. She was steely-eyed and stiff-lipped because otherwise she’d fall apart. And she did fall apart the day she came in to tell me her Paul had died. They had been married for over 60 years.

    She died recently. Her name was Ruth. I wish I’d had time to learn more of her story. I was intrigued by what I did learn as she made her way through the grieving process and began to kind of blossom on her own, learning to do things her husband used to do for her.

    Well, this is your fault. I’m rambling in your blog again. ;)

  3. Corina- Exactly. There’s nothing so generous to give as your attention.

    Robin- That’s exactly what I wanted to have happen. :)

    Feel like I know Ruth a little, just from those couple of paragraphs.

    mad- Then take a break, boo boo. Step back. It’s okay.

  4. I love hearing people’s stories. Too many can slow you down, stop you, mire you down. But sometimes, really, that’s not a bad thing.

  5. amuirin – What can I write but WOW! With this post you reveal such a deep sensitivity (not that you haven’t before) – a reverence for an individuals identity, an how that flows from and creates for them a “Story” And implicit in this piece is how the story is not the whole tale of the person…

    So many great perspectives here, too many to expound upon. The greatest thing about this work is that it displays a great amount of care…for people and what is important to them.

    Poet Man

  6. J- Yes, I can understand that feeling of being overburdened sometimes. Ideally there’s a happy medium between the self-centric and being attuned and receiving to the outside world, but it seems that, like so many things, it goes by streaks. It never rains but it pours.

    1poet- I’m glad you enjoyed this read, I don’t see you here very often! Pretty cool to have something I write received in that way. Thank you.

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