The power of stories

August 11, 2011 at 10:47 am | Posted in Musings | Leave a comment
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We are on the road to Johannesburg from Cape Town driving through the beautifully barren landscapes of the Karoo. I love road trips for many reasons, but mostly because they give perspective to a life. There have been riots in London, the gold price is soaring, the ice is melting and yet life goes on. I woke up wondering (as I do sometimes) how we can make it all better. I know that I want us to clean up pollution, but for a person struggling to feed his or her children, or someone who has even abandoned that essential task out of utter hopelessness, the accumulation of plastic in the oceans simply does not matter. We are faced with many potentially irreconcilable dilemmas everywhere.  And so I think and think and think about how to take action that breaks through intractable world problems.

My main idea this morning is that it is critical for people to tell their stories (and to be heard) as a stepping stone towards caring for themselves, their communities and their environment. And so, for today, I decided to ask people their stories when I met them. The waitress at the Wimpy told me a little of her story. She  managed to become qualified in various aspects of hospitality despite having very limited resources. Hers is a story of determination.

I have been musing about how we can tell our stories whilst using our hands and also through our handiwork – making patchwork blankets, knitting, painting, crafting of one kind or another –  in a slower, older way of living and communicating and stitching the fragments of our lives into coherent wholes. And finally, thinking about how we can pay more attention to the untold stories of our unconscious minds, releasing the demons and discovering the magic that is sometimes stored there.

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