How we tell our stories makes all the difference. For example, my grandma Melba had an original spin on Aesop’s famous fable of the ants and the grasshopper.
According to Aesop, (620-560 B.C. Greek slave and famed storyteller) the ants were busy, as ants usually are, putting food away for the coming cold. The grasshopper preferred to sun himself and fiddle. Of course, when the seasons changed, the grasshopper found himself hungry and without food. He had to beg from the ants. Aesop’s moral is a warning about what happens when you fiddle the summer away.
My grandma Melba ended that same story with a question: “And who do you think kept those ants from dying of boredom all winter long, if not that fiddling grasshopper?”
She was right, of course.
Better yet, telling the story her way allowed her grandchildren to have fun and toil at art without apology–as well as the so-called serious stuff.
Do you have a different take on an old story? Share it in the comment section.
Overheard in the grocery store.
Younger child: “My cat doesn’t like that.”
Give me a minute. I know this Cat can talk!
Older child: “How do you know?”
“He told me.”
“Cats don’t talk,”
“They do in stories.”
Indeed! Every story has an other-worldly, magical quality where anything can happen. What if . . . cats could talk? What if . . . I were braver, smarter, funnier? What if . . . What if . . . What if . . .
I’m not talking about fantasy. I’m talking about the very real way our minds constantly slip back and forth between reality and our inner musings–what we wish, want, imagine or dream. Who we think we are is often different from how others see us because we include our inner life in our sense of self–something we find hard to share, except in story.
Magical realism is a technique serious writers, like Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Ben Okri and Murakami Haruki, use to try to capture what is fantastical in everyone’s everyday life. Murakami Haruki, for example, slides seamlessly between reality and memory, creating a hyper-reality that represents the way we all let our everyday experiences be colored by our day-to-day anxieties.
The child in the pet food aisle of my local grocery store knew that nothing is as simple as “cats don’t talk.”
Mud Puddle Beauty
I know someone who claims to hate all stories because they’re embellished, exaggerated. Not true. Just elaborate lies.
She’ll have her mud puddles pristine, thank you.
Never mind that the experience of splashing in one has always been more about a feeling of freedom than wet dirt. It’s the fun, not the mess, that matters. And, yes, most of us will lie about how the mud got on our shoes if we don’t think the real story will be appreciated.
“There was this mud puddle, a really great mud puddle, that was just begging for someone to give it a good splash . . .”
“I don’t know. The mud just got there!”
On the other hand, my friend is right. With a little imagination, who knows what a mud puddle might become . . . a fantasy of lights maybe.
Of course, that’s another story altogether.
Filed under Fantasy, stories