A story can be told in two ways: the way it happened, and the way it is remembered. The storyteller is welcome at every table, though the story may change with each telling. It really doesn’t matter, it is after all, just a story.
Children are the best story tellers, since they have little recall, the stories they tell are usually created in the moment. If you question the story, they are able to embellish it on the spot. When I was a little girl of four, I created four big brothers. When questioned, they were suddenly locked up and fed bread and water. Clearly a mistake. Are these kind of stories a form of wish? The idea that exaggeration somehow enhances our self-image arrives early.
We are here to create, and all stories do not involve overestimating one’s own abilities, though a stretch of the truth often gives flavor to the imagination.
The creation stories of the Native American cultures, Greek and Roman mythology. and the stories of the Bible are all crossover creation stories. Oral tradition is extremely important, for without it, there would be no story telling. Each tribe, like each family, has its own story, of which there are multiple versions. Just as two or more siblings remember the events of childhood in various ways, our own stories take on new luster in time. More often than not, the Native American stories involve animals or humans who transform and do miraculous things, all explaining the unexplainable mystery of life.
“I Am a Child of the Sun and the Rain” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen
We are all story-tellers; you tell me your story and I will tell you mine. Those stories may change from time to time either from new experiences or from remembrance, but the things we say are mostly true. Taken all together stories form the glorious tapestry of our lives.
CANTALOUP AND KOOL-AID
by kayti sweetland rasmussen
Where is the door to the story?
Can we all walk through it?
A story lives on the lips of
Diego from Hollywood days.
Far from this dusty village
Where nothing happens.
Cantaloup and Kool-Aid
And a bedroll on the floor
In this stone village
where he tells his stories.
Even the tree outside our windows
seems to listen with ruffled
leaves tipping and cooling
in the evening chill.
The pleasant knicker of an Indian pony
through the open window over
heads drowsy with sleep
announced the coming of the dawn.
We sat around the fire pitching our
own stories into the lap of the story teller.
We dropped troubles and pain.
Are they now someone else’s stories?
10 thoughts on “HERE TO CREATE”
Wonderful post! I find myself envious of storytelling cultures, of sitting in a group and listening to a story that has meaning within the culture. So much better than turning on the TV and watching the news, something I should probably stop doing for awhile. To be fair, I have attended some memorable lectures and even sermons. The idea isn’t totally lost to us.
So true, but I agree the idea of sharing a culture with such meaning would be so nice. With immigration we have lost a common heritage, but we have gained the opportunity to share the customs of others. The problem arises with the fact that so many people coming from other places want to keep their own but not mix. Lectures and church seem to be good idea in some ways. I loved sitting around a campfire with my Campfire girls listening to stories, or listening to a ranger’s talk when camping. It’s all about sharing stories; whether ours or another’s.
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What a wonderful post, Kayti. Your poem at the end like a snow crystal. Your post of story telling reminds me of my stay in Finland. I did not know much about Finland which at the time I was there, seemed a forgotten corner of Europe.
While living there I was urged to try and understand a little about Finland and its people by reading the Kalevala which is the National epic of Finland. A combination of many stories and folklore compiled by one man.
Thanks so much about the history of Finland. We visited Finland some years ago; a beautiful country. I wished we had time to explore further north. I will read more about it later. Their art work in glass and wood carving is so lovely.
Great post, Kayti! And so timely, for me, since my family has just begun working on our ancestry. Your point about how siblings remember things differently is so true. It’s been difficult, in my family, to sort out truth from fiction when it comes to the stories my parents told about their experiences. We are having to rely on documents in order to establish the events that happened. I guess, for accuracy’s sake, that is a good thing. Thanks!
Thank you, I’m glad it resonated with you. We recently did the DNA test with Ancestry and like everyone else, found a few surprises! I had done family history some years ago, so no surprises there. Those I have talked to who used Ancestry were quite pleased.
Well, as far as I’m concerned, Faulkner nailed it when he wrote in The Town: “”The poets are wrong of course. But then poets are almost always wrong about facts. That’s because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth: which is why the truth they speak is so true that even those who hate poets by simple and natural instinct are exalted and terrified by it.” (The Town, 1957)
In another place he wrote, “Facts and truth really don’t have anything to do with each other.”
That’s why, when we gathered the whole family around the dinner table and someone said “Remember when…?” the different versions of what Uncle Ed really did with that turkey leg on that famous Thanksgiving may differ in details, but still be true in every version.
It’s why people have so much trouble with the four Gospels in the Bible. Four stories; four perspectives. Different in the factual recounting? You bet. True? Depending on your point of view, more or less — but the truth contained there endures.
I love this, from your poem:
“We sat around the fire pitching our
own stories into the lap of the story teller.”
There are so many ways to read that, and to understand “pitching.” And of course, part of the story-teller’s art is finding the door that will open the story to the reader or listener. Georgia knew that, and painted it often. Black Patio Door was in the Crystal Bridges exhibit, but I finally took it out of my post because it didn’t quite fit the narrative. I do love it.
I’ll begin with Black Patio Door. My opening reaction: OMG yes. I had never seen it and I love it. Though I agree it did not fit in with those you posted. Remarkable painting. You can see my love of simplicity.
Now back to Faulkner: he is right of course, facts and truth don’t have anything to do with it. A friend once said to me that it doesn’t matter if it’s true as long as it’s interesting or funny depending on your intention. We often sat around the table tossing Kipling around while our girls were young. Don’t know why we chose him but maybe I had just bought the book. Two of my dearest friends, both gone, and I spent many an hour reading or reciting poetry while judging the quality of a bottle of red–or white. I don’t know what drew me to enjoy poetry as a child. Probably not Robert Louis Stevenson, though I read all his poems. It probably was my grandmother’s soft leather volume of Longfellow’s poems. Maybe I first liked the feel of the book.
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The door, by the way, was the door at her own adobe house in NM.
I guessed that.
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