“A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick… Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger.” – Ben Okra
Greetings to you on this mid-November day, and a nod to all my US friends celebrating Thanksgiving.
Today I saw a little bullfinch and a pheasant. I fed donkeys and ducks. I had a conversation with an elderly man about his travels in the 60s. He told me stories of seeing a tiger in the wilds of India, and how when he was a child he used to memorise advertisements on buses to pass the time- he proceeded to recite one to me. Today I also had a conversation with a woman in her 60s about how, when she was younger, she spent 5 years sailing around the world, and how just three years ago, she sailed from the Marshall Islands to Vanuatu. She told me that living on a boat, with limited resources and space, has been one of her biggest lessons in life as now she can live almost anywhere and does not need as much space or things which has liberated her from her perception of need. She radiates joy and compassion. As does he.
Those little stories and encounters have changed my day.
You see, I’d started the day tuning into the media, and we all know what happens when that door is opened. I soon found myself down that tunnel of darkness, threading the fine line of cynicism which has been chasing my tail these last few weeks. What I also know is stepping across that line is a conscious choice and I have a choice not to go there, and actively tune in elsewhere; to the stories around me, to the moments of beauty and surprise, and to the conversations and questions which point to another narrative, one which mainstream media does not broadcast.
There are stories everywhere and our stories matter. They matter more than ever. What we speak about, what we amplify, what we tune into, what we choose to respond to. I’ve been remembering that quote from Ben Okri – ‘A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick… Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger’
You serve by following the questions.
You serve by giving your talents, your gifts, your capacities.
You serve by being awake.
You offer what you know and then you let go of it again.
You learn, over and over.
You embrace this life fully and vibrantly.
You feel it all. All of it, and offer that.
You move deeper.
You don’t turn away.
You stand for something.
You shake it up until it rattles you.
And above all you create.
Above all that you keep going.
And most importantly you bring your love
And through that love is devotion.
And there is your faith.
Your faith is not lost.
Your faith is in action.
Your action is your question.
Your questions will lead the way.…
So now I’ve a ton of questions about how I can be a part of creating this new narrative. Interestingly they are not Why questions but How and What questions.
- What should I do next?
- Who should I support?
- What is the best use of my time and resources?
- What is needed most?
- In what ways can I best sustain myself?
- Who should I be connecting with…
- What can I offer..
So while the stories can conquer fear, so too can the questions, because the questions lead us onwards, into the story, and then beyond.
But right now, I hear the donkey’s calling. It is dusk and the ducks needs to be fed. This is the story of the way of the things and it needs tending too.