Stories are timeless. And while we don’t know if we’ll always have books we do know that we’ll always have stories. Stories are a psychological imperative. They help us escape our own mundane reality and paradoxically help us cope with it.
In this post I’d like to explore the idea of setting off the story within as a method of coping with a difficult situation. Stories are everywhere. Within us and external to us. Many of us don’t think of ourselves as writers or even story tellers but when we find ourselves in a pickle – especially during the holiday season – (and don’t think I don’t know about those highly stressful family gatherings where you’re forced to meet the relatives you’ve done your best to avoid the entire year) writing/story-telling can be a life-saving technique.
This past week I was at one such gathering (not relatives but close enough to confuse them that they are). I knew it was going to be close to impossible for me to be myself. Lucky for me my almost four-year-old brought home a story with popsicle-stick puppets to act it out with. I took the story with. As a result I was able to turn part of the experience into a children’s activity and thus avoid the obnoxious adults I wanted nothing to do with.
But what if my son hadn’t brought home that life-saving story? What could I have done?
I’ll tell you this. As a writer I schlep a notebook with me everywhere. Now while I can’t just pull it out when I’m among company (especially company I dislike – though I really would like to), I can write the idea for a script or story in my head. And then, the second I’m outta there and safely in the car, I pull out my notebook and jot my ideas down.
If you have a smartphone (I don’t) you can pretend to be busy with your phone and type out a story – send an e-mail to yourself or something. Tell the abominable relatives its an urgent e-mail.Turn the hated relative into a devlish character – but give them one likeable trait to keep it interesting.
In my humble opinion, when used thus, the story acts as a shield. For me an indispensable one. Without it I’d have bled a spiritual and emotional death.
What about you? Have you ever used a story as a shield? Would you ever try?