I’m going to risk being incredibly annoying. I’m not sure how I’ll tie this post into some gardening-related theme. What I do know is it is February, and February is a bastard.
It’s cold even though the sun shines. It’s snowing although the galanthus try to bloom. Frost thwarts the hopeful tips of crocuses and daffodils. False promises from the sunny window cajole me with untenable cold. I can barely take a walk without getting a sinus infection.
And for reasons I will never understand, work is incredibly busy this time of year. Maybe every crisis sublimated to survive the holidays explodes into conscious awareness in February. Maybe all the secrets you keep while you pretend to be Merry and Bright in December turn into black bitter sludge to be drained and dumped into the landfill I call my office in February. Or maybe we just all need it to be Spring ASAP. Like, freakin’ NOW.
Dinner is the usual salad, pasta, or stir fry; something concocted quickly on a work night when both parties have zero energy and less than zero time to devote to culinary artistry. After I mix up a meaty mousse of Gerber’s and warm water for my disabled cat, clean his box, give him his meds, figure out what to cook for the other human I live with, make sure the other human’s mischievously aggressive cat is safely isolated from the aforementioned aging disabled cat, maybe take the time to wash my face or get into non-work related clothing, unload the dishwasher or tidy up the bathroom, sweep or start some laundry, break down some recycling or take out some compost, maybe then I can stop, breathe and relax.
And so begins the Telling of Tales.
We like to tell stories and make up stories in my house. It occurred to me last night that this is where literature was born, in conversations among groups or families with full bellies whose day of work is over, in the relaxing twilight when silence and darkness slide over the land. Historically these conversations would happen in the glow of embers from a dying fire. I’m sure these conversations could never take place in the glow of a television screen.
I’m revitalized by real conversation where information, stories, and archetypes are shared. It’s a stark contrast to how drained I feel by most conversations, which seem to consist merely of demands and negotiations. Compare listening to an auctioneer with listening to a storyteller at a campfire and you’ll get what I mean.
I think all families or communities create their own stories and enact their own myths; just look at children at play and how they make up plots and characters. Writing stories or telling stories is a natural part of being human, learning who you are and where you fit in the world. And in the same way that some indigenous people once believed a photograph can steal your soul, I think the TV and internet can steal your stories. Be careful with these powerful media magics, and take time to make your own myths.