The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT: LET ME TELL YOU A STORY…
Let me tell you a story is a phrase opens my ears and my mind as soon as I hear it. And if it’s a good story, it opens my heart.
I get that out of a good book. As we all know, books open ourselves to worlds that may be impossible to visit in this real one. They can take us to the bottom of the sea to the farthest reach of the universe and everywhere in between.
How many of us get to experience somebody sitting down with us and telling us a story from their own mouths? Yes, there are audiobooks that we can hear peoples words echo inside our little own chambers called our minds. But how often do we get to hear it from an actual physical being?
Once upon a time, this was the way stories were passed down. We sat in our homes and people came to us or we went to visit them and stories were passed down by word of mouth. Maybe they were real stories of our ancestors of how they grew up or some sort of heroism. And, maybe, they were made up stories that were told by someone who could weave us into the fabric of the tale. We could get caught up in it and time would pass without us knowing it.
I have an image in my head that may have come from a movie or book, I’m not sure where. I imagine sitting down after a long day of being in the wilderness and having supper cooked over an open fire. The night has crept in, though the dying light can still be seen in the west, all red and orange with the lightest blue as it fades into the black above my head. Early evening stars are starting to blink into a new night existence.
Then somebody starts to tell a story. As they continue, you become encased in the body of the verbal adventure, so much so, eating has slowed because the sound of your chewing may take away from your concentration. A small breeze caresses your face and you feel transported by that breeze to where this story is taking place. You sit without moving as you, in turn, are moved…
That’s what I’m talking about. We can get that feeling from reading and occasionally from a movie or TV show.
To have a story told to you by your body being in the same space as another can carry you away.
I think about this a lot. There is a part in the Stand by Stephen King, where Randall Flagg talks about hunkering down by the fire (it may have been the TV mini-series) and even though he’s a bad guy, that image stuck with me. I even wrote a story where a group of friends spends Christmas together in a large cabin in the woods as the snow falls and there is a roaring fire in the fireplace and the main character tells a story and shares something with the others that they didn’t know, something unworldly.
The idea of spinning a yarn has bounced around in my thoughts for years. And I’m honestly not sure why. Maybe it’s some sort of left-over fragment from one of my ancestors that was buried (or not) along the way through my relatives to be brought to the surface of my mind by a thought or a vision. I don’t know. But in its way, there is a warmth to the idea. That fire in the wilderness brought forth from the imagines of someone. This idea may have even come from the opening of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories where you see a caveman sitting by the fire telling a story to other cave people.
I remember being told a story in elementary school. It was near Christmas and our teacher had decided to read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. She had to split it over a couple of days but there comes a moment in the story where the story of the birth of Christ changed the hearts of the Herdman children. There, sitting in my seat, surrounded by my friends (and enemies), I was touched.
I started to cry.
I wasn’t boo-hooing with great fits. I wept silently as the teacher read. Tears rolled down my young face. I tried to keep them hidden as best as I could but my teacher noticed and smiled but kept reading. I think she knew that calling me out may have damaged me psychologically. I thank her to this day that she didn’t.
To hear that story read out loud is something I have never forgotten.
There are even conventions where people tell stories in front of crowds, trying to get the Best Storyteller award. Search these out on the internet or local papers to see when they might be coming to your town.
If you have kids and you don’t do this already, read to them. Try doing different voices for different characters. Search out libraries that have people reading to young children and take yours. If you have some like-minded friends, create a book club where you all get together and instead of reading the book before you meet up, read the book fresh together. Even if you don’t read very well out loud, it’s fine. A lot of people don’t. Do it anyway. Of course, make sure your club is made up of good friends that don’t judge.
If a group setting is too daunting, read together with your spouse or partner. It can be a very bonding experience.
And, you can always read out loud to yourself. I do this from time to time, practicing different voices and going as far as I can without flubbing a line.
Yes, listening to an audiobook is still fine and may be preferred by you. Understand I’m not against that. On the contrary, I enjoy a good audiobook like other fans of books and writing. But to hear it from an actual person that’s in the same room with you is way better.
Next time you’re out on a date with your love or you’re with your children or you’re taking yourself out, pick up a book, take it home and make a night out of it by reading out loud.
So, readers of my blog, I want you to sit down and get comfortable. Though I can’t be there in person, pretend I am.
Hunker down by the fire and let me tell you a story…
-Loyd Elmore Jr.
January 25th, 2018
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.