Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Born Storytellers

Friends from afar and rainstorms like gods descending in fury have been the gift of our last two weeks of summer vacation. Both my brothers are home (well, Nate is almost here) and along with them a whole family of dear friends. Our house feels like Noah's ark - crammed with countless creatures all eating and laughing and sailing the seas of discussion at all hours of the day. After a jaunt down to the artsy part of town this morning, we got caught in yet another shrieking fury of a rainstorm and got home soaked and chilled. There was nothing for it but to light candles and kindle a fire (summer fires are one of the many joys of being a Coloradoan). Tea was brewed in a fat cobalt pot, mismatched teacups piled on a silver tray, and scones warmed in the oven. We lounged around our living room, the soundtrack from Ladies in Lavendar keening in the background.

Now, I must inform you that I am the introvert of introverts. I sometimes have these odd, panicked moments of thinking, oh no, what will we talk about now? If you are an extrovert, just ignore me. I know I'm strange. Nonetheless, even with my best friends, I sometimes wonder what I will say to keep the conversation going. Today though, I had a small revelation. We had all just settled in when my mom, cozy as a queen in her chair commanded, "okay, everyone has to tell a story from their own life."

The rambling, hysterical round of epics that followed never slowed from the minute we sat down to the instant we rose to start the feast for dinner. From tales of disastrous mountain hikes to the meeting of famous people, to unforgettable midnight rambles in tiny, English villages, we filled an hour with stories. There was never a lag, never an out-of-place silence. Once told to tell our stories, to share whatever it was out of our own memory of life lived thus far that had most tickled or touched us, we spoke. Even the introverts. As we got up to the clatter empty teacups, I had a moment of clear realization. We're all born storytellers.

Scratch a soul and they bleed a story, I'm convinced. We are all full of the tale of our lives, always connecting the dots of existence. The sum of our laughter and what we have seen and felt, and the people we have felt it with is the sum of who we are. To speak out the memories of what made us who we are is a vital part of how we craft our existence. But it is also a key element in the foundation of a friendship. It is by sharing stories that we knit souls and come to know each other. And I think we're probably all just waiting to tell our tales, if only someone will ask.

Story, I've decided, is what good conversation ought to be. I think I dread social situations sometimes because conversation exists on such a shallow level in modern times. I hate small talk. How can trivial pleasantries turn a stranger into a true friend? I've spent so many evenings, parties, and meals on conversations that don't mean a thing to anyone involved. The introvert in me dreads trying to come up with yet one more hour of talk that has no purpose but to pass some time. And yet today, it took just one comment from my mom to get the lot of us merrily talking the hour away. At the end, we knew far more about the loves and laughter of each other's hearts than we did when we sat down. Real conversation, the sort that makes souls known, consists of shared tales; the discovery of which ideas and scenes and happenings made us, formed our faith, livened our passion.

So now, whenever I feel that introverted panic rising, I shall simply grasp my teacup like a queen and request a merry tale. Or maybe even be brave enough to offer my own. Let the storytelling begin...