Friday, December 09, 2011

The Power of Story

I don't remember where I read or heard it, but the phrase "if you get the same message three times, pay attention" has been stuck in my head for years.

We saw the new Muppet movie over Thanksgiving break. The movie was delightful and silly, and had lots of 80's jokes that my children didn't understand. And I will admit to getting a little blinky eyed over the Rainbow Connection song. But beyond all that, it was about how stories, these silly muppet stories, had made a difference in people's lives, how Gonzo's daring antics made a young muppet feel that he too could do anything. And it made me think about stories, that we need heroes to inspire us, make us stretch a little deeper. Even if those heroes are blue and have funny purple noses.

Then we saw Hugo. I loved the book, and was worried if the film would do the book justice. It does. It has a different magic than all those lovely sketches in the book, but a magic all the same. Pay for 3-D, it's worth it. And getting to see parts of the Méliès films on the big screen was amazing. Beyond the story of a young boy and an old man, it was also about how those early films--when magicians used tricks of light to make dreams come to life, to get imaginations to soar---were important and life-changing and life enriching.  Again, the power of story.

I've been reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Not quickly like I usually read, but slowly. I don't want it to end. I'm very attached to this world and these characters. And without giving any of the plot away, here is what one character says toward the end, "Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift."

So, the power of story, the magic of story, times three. Write your stories, tell your stories. Stories are important in ways we might never know.

P.S. The picture above is from the original Muppet Movie. My husband and I still say, "Bear left." and "Right, frog." And see, that silly little joke has become part of our story.


Charlotte Rains Dixon said...

I love this post, Lauri. Here's one of my favorite quotes about the power of story, ever: "But take hope, for writing is magic....Just think: we can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts. The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended." Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey.

Lauri said...

Oh, but that is lovely. Thank you, Charlotte!