My sister sent me an email with a link to a short YouTube video about Four Questions. The video was by a woman cultural anthropologist, Angles Arien, who is talking about questions that traditional healers would ask if people say they are disheartened or dispirited.
The questions are:
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories, particularly your own life story?
When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?
Each of those questions is intriguing and deserves more explanation. However, I am going to write about the 3rd question – being enchanted by stories, particularly my own life story. This question caused me to think about our writing group and how it has helped me reinvigorate my interest in my own life story or at least in the telling of my life story. When I look back at the stories I have written, most of them are about people or episodes in my life. I am not a fiction writer, although I think it would be wonderful to be able to create characters who inhabit worlds of their own. But I don’t seem to be able to do that. When I sit down, I find I can only write about the things I know, about my own life. I wasn’t writing these stories before the writing group and now I am. I know it is a good thing, so I really connected with the question about life stories.
This exercise of writing each week has put me more in touch with, and maybe made me more enchanted with, my life. It has helped me develop my voice in writing. It has helped me remember and appreciate times and people in my life. I think everyone has stories, but we don’t always recognize our own stories or know how to tell them to others. So this group has given me the opportunity to think more deeply about my life and to practice learning how to tell my stories to others.
I think when we share our stories each week, we share a little bit of ourselves. It is really a gift we give each other – the little stories, the little bits of ourselves that we give. I am truly thankful for both the opportunity to share my stories and to hear the stories of everyone else in the group.