It’s raining this morning so we are sprawled on the couch watching a movie.
The villan has just tricked the hero into turning over his magic staff, the source of all his power, which the villan promptly breaks and then throws, along with our hero, into a deep pit.
“What will happen now?” Elly asks, matter-of-factly—we’ve done this before.
“I dunno, Habibi,” I reply. “Is it about the staff, or is it about him?”
Sure enough the hero, with the help of a friend, is able to access within himself what it takes to repair his staff and escape the pit.
He asks me if I’ve seen this movie before.
“Nah…I just know a lot about stories.” I say.
Because of you. I don’t add.
But as I watch him watching the rest of the movie, or watch him listen as I read to him, or even watch him when it clears up and we are playing catch, I realize that it’s true. It’s possible to know all the stories. Every single one that’s ever been told, or ever will be told, and it’s all because of my son. Or at least because I love him so much and because he’s been using that love to crack me open, to stop me dead in my tracks, for as long as he’s been around.
Because I’m not talking about having an extensive book collection, I’m not talking about Joseph Campbell, and I’m not talking about structuralism. I’m talking about something else altogether. Something simple but not at all easy.
I’m talking about the stories that we keep within us. In our meridians, in our nadis, in the Sephirot. I mean the Stories. The stories that connect us. That allow us to go beyond ourselves. The stories that, if we only stop for a moment and listen to them, allow us to become bigger than ourselves.
Those stories are hard to access. They are harder to hear. And they are hardest to remember. Being human is hard. We want to believe so much about ourselves. So much about what’s important to us is, well, important to us, and we’re not ever going to completely get over that in this lifetime.
But if we sense them, even for a second or a breath or part of a breath, they can help. For that second, that inhale or exhale or that blink of an eye, we can know the stories.
All the stories.
If we know all the stories, for that briefest moment we can recognize something in ourselves. We can recognize everyone else in ourselves. If I know all the stories—the same stories that you know, the same stories that include you, how can I resent you? How can I hate you for your resentment of what’s important to me?
I can’t because I know the stories and knowing the stories means I can see and understand your resentment. It’s the same as my resentment. Your hatred and fear are the same as the hatred and fear I’ve experienced. My anger is the same as the anger you’ve felt. We’ve heard this one before and we can see that it’s not about the staff we might carry, it’s about what’s within us.
All of us.
And it’s hard because we like our staff. We believe we need the staff of what’s important to us, the staff of our hurt and our anger, even the staff of our happiness and our accomplishments. We like those things. I downright love those things enough to horde them.
But if we know the stories we must also know how they end. And they end the same for all of us. And they end too soon for us not to at least try to listen.