This year has been all about stories for me. I’ve never been more aware of how stories shape reality. The power and sheer proliferation of stories is overwhelming. Every person has their own story about every event. That’s billions and billions of stories, cascading, intersecting, feeding and birthing each other.
Back in April I found myself feeling offended that there wasn’t a single ‘right’ story about the coronavirus. Of course that’s stupid and naive. There has never been one right story about anything. And intellectually I know that. But sitting in my apartment, day after day, immersed in news stories, social media stories, conspiracy stories, friends’ stories, family stories, and being able to see that all of them were conflicting and lying and wrong drowned me. I needed one solid truth to hold onto, to get my head into the air, and there wasn’t one. I drowned in despair and fear and uncertainty.
Now I’m watching the Black Lives Matter protests and these stories burn me with rage and sickness. The lies and deceits, the omissions, the racist framing choices, the desperation, the actors, and the screaming into silence…all burn.
The protests and BLM stories playing out now are all stories that have the power to show people something they have no concept of. They reveal the stories that are so deeply embedded that you don’t know they’re there, or that they even are stories. You assume that the story is reality, when it’s not.
But that’s the power of story.
Stories are a human and linear way of understanding something that is not linear, something that is an intrusion of the unlimited, numinous potential of the universe, of creation. It’s called creation for a reason. Stories are the most powerful of ideas—ideas with shape, direction, force, energy and soul. Ideas that draw people and events into their flow.
Stories are an act of creation, making space for new things, shaping and changing reality.
A few months ago I wrote a story. It was a solarpunk-inspired story about what my street and apartment could look like in a hopeful and sustainable future.
A couple of days later I found that some pawpaw trees had sprouted in the abandoned and ignored garden attached to my building. It’s likely they’ve come from a possum or fruit bat. I thought it was interesting and then forgot.
A month or so ago, I discovered a random passion fruit vine had been quietly winding its way through the hibiscus and myrtle bushes and had produced a couple of fruits. Again, no human had planted it and it’s likely to have come from an animal. But I’ve lived here for years and this is the only time there has ever been food-plants on the property.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, one of my neighbours, who I’ve spoken less than 20 words to in the whole time I’ve been here, knocked on my door to talk excitedly to me about his plans to put in a communal vegetable and herb garden. Pretty sure I stared at him like I was going crazy.
Last weekend they started clearing the space. We now have a compost pile of sorts.
People are buying plants. One of my other neighbours is building raised garden beds in his garage. And my contribution so far is the weed matting and mulch.
I wrote a dinky little story about communal food resources and sustainable living in an urban environment and ended up manifesting the damn thing by accident.
That is the power of stories. Especially in the hands of magical people. That is the one truth I can hold on to—by telling the right stories we can create the amazing, beautiful, inclusive and hopeful future we want.
So I’ve started another story. And this time, I’m putting in effort. I can’t wait for it to happen.
One week later we already have pea shoots. Also, a neighbour randomly brought up in conversation how good intentions improve plant growth. It was very hard to hold a sensible expression while I responded that I’d read some research that supported that, too.