Eat, sleep, work, repeat.
That’s how my mornings feel, sometimes.
The alarm goes off, and I struggle to believe that it really is 6 o’clock in the morning because of the smug, thick blackness pressed to my bedroom windows.
I’m an ‘early-riser’, a ‘before the dawn’er. I open my eyes long before the sun reaches out and cradles the sky with its sunbeam fingertips, before the rays slowly change the blackness to grey, to navy, to streaks of periwinkle and coral, finally settling on a defiant September sheet of cold, crisp cloud.
It’s too early for breakfast, it’s always too early for breakfast. Toothpaste, warpaint, clothes, placating an impatient taxi driver, greeting a familiar face at the train station, “the usual”, and I’m on the train, applying the lipstick I didn’t have time to finish before leaving the house.
There’s a lot of us, the early-risers. We have our routines. A radio station, a kiss, a cup of tea.
Regardless, they are still routine to the individual. It’s no wonder then, that we occasionally find ourselves yearning for a little break from the norm, for a little escapism.
Oh, what it would be to spend each day how we really wanted to. But that isn’t how the world works; we have to find our own oasis. We want to just lose ourselves for a moment or two and briefly forget our anxieties and schedules.
For maybe a minute, maybe five, maybe an hour, we want a distraction. So we pick up a book. We go to museums. We look at art and press play on songs. We ask questions, we talk about ourselves and we learn about other people.
Because storytelling isn’t just about escapism. Yes, we’re looking for an escape from the ordinary, but we’re also looking to find a piece of ourselves in a magazine column, in lyrics, in an outspoken opinion or a fictional character.
Stories are what bring us together. They dance in the words whispered around flickering campfires, they sparkle in happy memories and they bring forth rivers of tears in sadnesses we’d never considered or never wanted to remember.
Storytellers aren’t just novelists or playwrights, they aren’t just poets or bloggers. They’re just people, who share fractions of themselves.
Storytellers weave magic out of fiction and harness the powers of truth and emotion. They calm, they entertain, they enlighten.
Stories are everywhere. They’re not simply nestled in dusty pages, but woven into the fabrics of old clothes, blended into the colours of paintings, speaking or singing or shouting through lyrics. They’re held in the answers to ‘so how did you meet’, and ‘tell me about yourself’. They’re in our vulnerabilities, in the changes we want to see in the world and in the experiences that have shaped us – be they pleasant or painful.
They’re about that hey, me too moment. The realisation that you see yourself in someone, and see a piece of them in you. It’s about discovering that someone feels the same way you do about something you’ve never spoken aloud, it’s about if they can do it, I can do it. It’s about being inspired by someone you’ve never met, who could live on the other side of the world, or who may only exist in fantasy or fiction.
It’s about a connection. Communication.
It’s about what you believe, how we grow, how we learn.
So many stories have shaped me, that the words all seem to be intricately woven together like the embroidery of a dreamcatcher. Where the threads meet, that’s where I sit and continue to add more strings with each story I devour, each new person or character or voice that gives me another loop to pull.
I have found so much of myself in so many different people. Of a young boy who lived in a cupboard under the stairs and found out he had magic running through his veins. Of a girl I went to school with who chronicled her battle with cancer. Of my own teen diaries bursting with angst and secrets. Of writers and bloggers who have no idea how much their love lives and identity crises and personas have resonated with me.
They’ve all changed my life simply by sharing, by putting words out there, and touched my soul with the stroke of a pen, the speaking of words and the telling of tales.
They peaked curiosity, gave me comfort, give me hope, give me drive, spark determination and inspiration.
My hope is that stories and their tellers will never really die, but continue to remain immortalised in their impact, to be passed on for generations and continue to spark up dormant fires in hoards of humans whenever they may need it.
After all, we don’t stay as flesh and blood and bones, but we live on by sharing pieces of ourselves with others.
And that… that is what storytelling really is.