September 24, 2019 | Storytelling
Stories Create Space for Seasons
There is a lightness which cloaks the day in a subtle glow. As you wake up, the wind billows through the window and stirs loose hairs across your face.
The afternoon passes in soft banter and thoughtful, genuine conversations. You laugh a fair bit and smile in the in-between. Everything on your work to-do list gets done, or at the very least you make a good dent in it and feel confident about the direction of it all.
You head home and cook a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try. You settle yourself at the table and eat it in quiet contentment while the radio plays slow over the speakers.
You’re tired but not so much so that you can’t stomach a good hour or two of reading before bed.
The crickets and cicadas hum and the stars are bright.
You relax into an easy sleep and wake up the following morning with a rested body and a mind full of hopeful murmurs.
The light cuts through the window and blinds you awake. The birds are loud and your body groans with aching resistance as you heave it over the side of the bed.
The cereal is tasteless in your mouth and you rush out the door, already late.
You cry in one of the stalls at work for no tangible reason and hope no one hears but also plead someone does. Colors and conversations are muted. You clock in and you clock out.
The commute home passes in thoughts which swim by you like skittish little fish. You watch them with listless attention and apathy. Your brain sits in your head like a boulder.
Everything is far away; the world knocks but it’s too muffled to make out. You’re simply too weary to take notice or care.
Nothing in the fridge suits you so you burrow into the covers early and watch the minutes tick by, willing yourself to fall asleep but you can’t and the air presses down on you thick as molasses.
We’d like to believe life is always spent in a kind of eternal summer—when our goals and habits feel achievable and restful rhythms are sustainable.
We spend more intentional time with the people we care about and cut out needed hours for ourselves. Regardless of the external world, there seems to be a peace we’ve tapped into.
But we also know that life doesn’t operate out of one season; changing temperatures are inevitable and soon enough, winter comes.
Sometimes it lasts for a day and sometimes the icy weather moves in and makes itself at home indefinitely.
In Let Your Life Speak Parker J. Palmer writes 1,
The notion that our lives are like the eternal cycle of the seasons does not deny the struggle or the joy, the loss or the gain, the darkness or the light, but encourages us to embrace it all—and to find in all of it opportunities for growth.
We need stories because they have the power to meet us wherever we find ourselves.
They validate our own lived stories of eternal summers and endless winters, as well as the countless months in between. In affirming the reality of life as existing in seasons, good stories grant us a unique and compassionate gift to embrace the changing temperatures with a wholeness of being.
Stories remind us we are not strange or abnormal by inviting us into the narratives of others.
They laugh with us in the sunshine or bundle up next to us through the cold months. Like enzymes, personal stories break down the lies in our heads which tell us we should feel ashamed for experiencing different feelings every morning.
The vulnerable realness of a personal story has the ability to infuse us with hope and to coax us in out of the snow.
By reminding us of the presence of others and their respective lives, good stories can prevent us from collapsing inwards.
Because stories allow space for all seasons of life, they woo us in mysterious ways and we catch ourselves listening with held breath. Stories affirm the reality of the hard and fluctuating seasons we encounter. They encourage us to us to embrace our own seasons. They make us feel seen.
Stories invite us to step in and feel someone else’s seasons.
1 Parker J Palmer, Let Your Life Speak (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco: 2000), 95–96, 98.