|Photo by David Liittschwager|
"The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them and learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other's memories."
— Barry Lopez
Do you care for the stories in and about your life? Stories are the memories of who we are and where we have gone. Stories remind us of what is important and what we want to remember. Do you take care of your family stories, those tales that create the collective you? Each time I share a story I am giving a piece of myself away.
One of those stories that circulated in my family was the time when I was six or seven and lived on a farm. My father was working the second shift at a factory because the farm did not give us enough money to live on. One summer afternoon after my father had left, the cows meandered out into the cornfield. Now this can be dangerous for the cows because they don't know when to stop eating and they could kill themselves by eating too much corn. My mother and I attempted to chase the cows back into the barn but were unsuccessful. She went into the house to call my father and have him come home from work. She told me to come in as well and leave the cows alone. I prayed to God and asked that He helped me drive the cows back to the barn. And by some miracle, I did. God answered my prayer. What I have never understood is why the prayer was answered when the result was I disobeyed my mother. That story has circulated within my family for years and gave me the impression that I had a special connection to God. That connection was broken when I was seventeen, but that is a story for another time.
What are your family stories? What are the tales that have helped to create the person who you are? What stories are you repeating over and over to people? What stories are you hiding that you have been unwilling to tell? What stories do you need to change because they are hurting you and holding you back from becoming who you want to become? Are you taking good care of your stories? Have you written them down? Made them available to others?
Barry Lopez was born in Port Chester, New York and raised in both New York City and Southern California. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He currently lives in Oregon where he moved in 1968. Lopez has traveled to remote and populated areas of the world.
Lopez is an essayist, author and short-story writer. He has received the National Book Award for his book, Arctic Dreams, and was a National Book Award finalist for his book, Of Wolves and Men.
Prior to 1981, Lopez was also a landscape photographer and still maintains a close connection with various artists and photographers.
Here is a link to his website: http://www.barrylopez.com/index.htm
Here is a video with Barry Lopez.