Saturday, November 12, 2011

My favorite story

This may be my favorite story.

I heard it in January 2010 at a storytelling event held at the Monti in Durham, North Carolina.
Scott Huler, an author of several books, talks about a time when he was "so thoroughly unhappy," "exiled to the state news desk" at the News & Observer. Why was he unhappy? Because journalism, at least what was expected or required of him, moved from telling stories to providing information ("Get statistics and write stories in the passive voice.") Through the experience, closeness with the escaped chimp, and writing the story, he discovers how he needs to change his life. He's just doing his job and doing it, figures out it no longer feeds him. The warmth, the humor, the surprise, the unexpected conclusion, all make it continue to resonate with me. Mixed in are some horrifying aspects, the prospect of an escaped chimp on the loose in Charlotte for a week, the roadside zoo in light of the recent tragedy in Ohio, the chimp biting the cameraman down to the bone, the chimp chain smoking. I forget these shocking details as I feel the storyteller's anger when the newspaper truncates the story which described an amazing day shared by many people. I like his description of how he checks his version of events with what others' experienced, it's a community storytelling, not something he feels possessive about.

What about me? Do I have a cage to break out of, or is it self imposed, like Blake's mind-forg'd manacles? Maybe that's an illusion, as Belle shows us. It's love and service. And gratitude. And doing what's worked before and may work again.

And what about what I call "my story?" An illusion too, maybe, just signifying the parts that I can recall at this moment, forgetting that I'm part of something greater?


  1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this - and I loved listening to this story! It hit on a theme I've been mulling over lately after doing a one-day retreat where the fellow leading it was talking about the Passover story and asked us what our Egypt is, what our narrow place (Mitzrayim) is. What are the cages that restrain us? And can they be transformed or do we need to just rip open the bars?

  2. Thank you for your feedback, Liz, I appreciate it. And I've enjoyed your adventure sequence of blog posts, so honest and open hearted and self forgiving. I'm grateful to you for introducing me to Jon Bernie's work also. Sounds like a wonderful retreat you went to.