Gilbert speaks of returning home, to that spot where you are doing the thing you love more than you love yourself. For her, it has always been writing. Whenever she found herself “away from home” either in the euphoria of success or the darkness of failure, she discovered that she needed to “write” her way back home to center.
It got me thinking, what does “home” mean to me, in terms of Gilbert’s model? My first instinct was to say “writing.” But I think that’s a step removed from home. For me, I think I’ve arrived to my source when I say I’m a storyteller.
As a girl when I shared a bedroom with my younger brothers, I’d tell them bedtime stories. Some I made up, others were variations on church camp lore, like Herman the Worm. We’d get into trouble for giggling too much at the punch line, “I burped”.
In grade school, when the teacher asked us to write a story about autumn, I proudly presented my “manuscript” The Story of Micky Maple Leaf. Multiple pages, rather than multiple paragraphs. The highlight was reading it aloud to the class, the performance part, the story telling. I clearly recall the excitement that held for me, and the disappointment when composition class was no more.
As I grew older, I’d embellish jokes, or the reporting of an event. I am painfully aware that I need an editor. I’m one of those people who feels that you need to know the back story as to why I need to go to the grocery store. I’ll start on a long-winded explanation, realize that I’m doing it AGAIN, and before you know it, I’m all tangled and self-conscious, trying to edit and cut to the chase and… where was I? Oh yeah, I’m going to the grocery store. We are out of milk.
I dabbled in theatre. I’m not proud to confess that I left the stage because I couldn’t handle all of the egos. The biggest was mine. Do I need the spotlight all to myself?
Maybe not. Acting is telling someone else’s story. Maybe I need for my voice to be heard. That is certainly a frequent lament of mine, both directly and subconsciously. Hear me! Pay attention! I am hurt. You do not understand, and on and on…
One of the most hurtful memories of my mother was when she’d say, “Don’t mind her. She just wants attention.”
Well, D’UH, mom, ya think?
Back then I did not have the resources, neither vocabulary nor intellect nor emotional maturity. Today, I like to think that I’ve got a handle on observing and recording life. (OK, I’ll admit that there’s room for improvement in the emotional maturity department, but two out of three ain’t bad. )
Writing is the platform for telling my stories. Am I quibbling? Perhaps. But I do not get the same jolt of recognition when I say “I’m a writer” that I do when I declare, “I’m a storyteller.”
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Storyteller Artwork Source
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