Transformational stories are an adventure. They transport us to a new place. And so naturally, the journey to make them takes us to challenging realms as well. As we make stories, they make us.
Many storytellers live two lives in one, simultaneously experiencing their own catharsis and cannibalizing it for the sake of the narrative. How does watching someone overcome obstacles provide the consolation we need to face our own? What opens up when life shakes us to the core?
Lydia had just returned from an extended creative stay in South Africa working on a documentary film with the theme of renewal when she came close to dying. Doctors described her as “circling the drain.” Her daughter Megan took her to the hospital where she has worked for over a decade to supervise the process of saving Lydia’s life.
In the midst of a pandemic the only visitors allowed were the characters in stories who could transport Lydia to a different experience and help her process her own. For weeks in the hospital and then bedridden for months after that it was stories that provided some of the best medicine. As did being invited to co-write a screenplay that just happened to make use of the “new material” of what it is like to look death in the maw and return skipping and ready for what’s next.
“As we make stories, they make us.”
Transformational stories invite us to participate in life fully, to accept responsibility for the heroine/hero journey we’re on, give us a kick in the pants, distract us when we need a break, and show us how to have compassion for ourselves and each other along the way.
What an adventure—from cradle to almost-grave, back to enjoy extended time among the living, and then eventually the final dirt nap under a favorite tree. Life on this beautiful little planet we call home is requiring us to be more creative. There’s a lot to do. Might as well make it count between now and the end of our days—as many storytellers agree.