We Are All Authors Of Our Story; Some­one Nearby Is Read­ing It

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - CHURCH - Ron Wood Columnist

Our youngest grand­daugh­ter was spend­ing qual­ity time with Grandma Lana and Grandpa Ron. Beatrix (Beats) just turned five. She daz­zles at dance recital, sings songs from “The Great­est Showman,” speaks in com­plete para­graphs, and rea­sons like a lawyer. When she’s de­lighted, she lights up the room.

I in­vited Beats to climb up on my lap and hear a story. From mem­ory I re­called parts of the old Ca­jun tale from a chil­dren’s book that I’d read to her mother decades be­fore. The book was en­ti­tled, “Old Has­drubal and the Pi­rates,” by Berthe Amos.

In the il­lus­trated book, an old bayou fish­er­man tells how his great-great-grand­fa­ther wres­tled an al­li­ga­tor, res­cued a cap­tive maid from pi­rates, and be­came the hero of the Bat­tle of New Or­leans. Beats lis­tened with rapt at­ten­tion, imag­in­ing the ex­cit­ing ac­tion scenes.

That evening, Beats told her mom about Grandpa’s ex­cit­ing story - a new one with a Ca­jun fish­er­man, pi­rates, and an al­li­ga­tor. Bek asked her, “Was the fish­er­man named Has­drubal?”

With a gasp of as­ton­ish­ment, Beats ex­claimed, “How do you know his name?”

Par­ent­ing and grand­par­ent­ing give us the chance to knit one gen­er­a­tion into the lives of those who went be­fore us. Fam­ily life is meant to be multi-gen­er­a­tional. It is best done by sit­ting around talk­ing. I missed this ben­e­fit as a child. I came along so late in my par­ents’ lives that only one grand­par­ent was still liv­ing, grandma Chris­ten­berry. She lived to be 96. Sally was a full­blooded Chero­kee In­dian, tall, high cheek bones, with long raven-black hair. She had mar­ried a white man. She al­ways spoke of him as “Mr. Chris­ten­berry.” Old faded pho­tos showed them as weathered pioneers who sur­vived tough times.

The power of a story goes beyond sim­ple facts. It paints a pic­ture. With sus­pense, it en­gages emo­tions. Your imag­i­na­tion is cap­tured so that you can see yourself in­side the drama. A well-told story al­lows you to iden­tify with the char­ac­ter’s dilemma. Rather than a mere recital of his­tory in black and white, a story paints with color. Our mind fills in the blanks. Each lis­tener takes it to heart in a per­sonal way.

I wish story-telling would come back in vogue. Un­like the writ­ten word, a sto­ry­teller can mix their own emo­tions, ex­pres­sions, tim­ing, and body lan­guage into the de­liv­ery. Co­me­di­ans like Bob Hope had mastered the “preg­nant pause,” mak­ing room for laugh­ter af­ter his joke sank in. Like­wise, some authors rise to the level of artistry in their craft of story-telling. For me, Dean Koontz does this, as does John Gr­isham. They en­gross read­ers in vivid tales of fic­tion. Au­thor James Pat­ter­son has mastered the tech­nique. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher char­ac­ter says more with less words than any au­thor I’ve read.

Oc­ca­sion­ally a writer weaves his­tor­i­cal re­search into a fic­tion­al­ized ac­count, mak­ing dry facts come alive. The late James Mich­ener had this abil­ity. Of course, be­ing a stu­dent of the Bi­ble, I can’t leave out Je­sus, the best story teller of all. He told sto­ries that caused even his crit­ics to get the point, es­pe­cially when the point was barbed and aimed at their hypocrisy. You can’t read the New Tes­ta­ment with­out be­ing amazed at his para­bles. He used thought-pro­vok­ing ques­tions and re­al­ity-prob­ing fic­tion.

Whether we watch, lis­ten, or read sto­ries, we are all authors of true story - our life. We are con­tin­u­ally nar­rat­ing our story, one chap­ter a day. It has an open, a mid­dle, and an end. Even the blun­ders we make are im­por­tant. Some­one nearby is read­ing your story ev­ery day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.