The Luminous Power of Storytelling | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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The Luminous Power of Storytelling


Published September 25, 2007 at 1:42 p.m.
Updated November 7, 2017 at 12:37 p.m.

Rereading this week's Hackie column got me thinking about the stories we tell one another, and how that process binds us in our common humanity.

In "The Back Story," I find out that a regular customer - Chase, a man that I've much appreciated and admired - spent the better portion of his twenties as a marijuana dealer, and not a nickel-and-dimer at that. As a result of his sharing this intense piece of personal history, I feel as if I understand him so much better. And, I would bet, Chase feels that as well.

Susan Cheever, the daughter of the brilliant author, John Cheever, wrote a memoir about her father. During an NPR interview with Terry Gross, Susan said this about the functioning principle of Alcoholic's Anonymous:  Connecting with another is the highest level of human spirituality, and we connect through our stories.

This statement moved me immensely. On one level, I've always suspected that we're all in AA, whether we acknowledge it or not. By this I mean that we're all beholden, to various degrees, to our lower natures. Perhaps our life's journey is defined by the struggle to rise above, to hear, what somebody has called, "our higher angels."

Storytelling for me works on just these levels. I'm moved and honored by the stories shared with me (both in and out of the taxicab), and I'm moved in another way when I retell the stories in my writing, or speak them in heart-to-heart conversations with my kith and kin.