Sucker for stories…

February 19, 2013

Sunday afternoons have turned me into a sucker for stories.

Just about every Sunday afternoon when I get in the car and drive home from gathering with the church, I turn on the radio to NPR. At first it was fairly mechanical. I get in the car, I turn on the radio. This week, as I sat in my driveway, listening to a comedian tell a story about the best of times and the worst of times, I realized its become something different.

More and more I’m finding stories serve to translate something, almost like a language I wasn’t aware someone was speaking. They’re full of ideas, yet more than ideas. Full of events, but more than timelines. Story transcends where diatribe and its cousins balk. As I heard today, “Sometimes a memory fits where a new idea won’t.”

The last long time–possibly forever–I’ve been reading Les Miserable. While there are times when I’ve found myself reading 20 pages on Paris’ sewers, or 60 pages describing a convent and ALL of its history, I’m finding that I love Hugo’s style. The story is so massive and the plot so grand (Hugo spends quite some time delving in to philosophy and speaking in terms that envelope the entirety of  humanity) that the reader must either revolt or submit to wherever the storyteller takes him.

The stories I hear ever Sunday invite me on a journey with them, to connect with their humanity by whatever road they take me on. Here are a couple of my favorite story telling radio shows:

The Tobolowsky Files – Yes, these stories are told by Stephen Tobolowsky (Remember “Ned” from Groundhog’s Day?)
The Moth – This is what I was listening to Sunday (if you can handle it, this one in particular pushed me over the edge)
Snap Judgement – Stories around a topic or theme

If you know me, you may not be surprised to know that my favorite story is a compilation of works communicating the one overarching story. But, of course, the seeing our story merely as humanity’s story is to inhabit understated, shortchanged story. Our story, so long as we view it as solely “our story”, is a ghetto of cul-de-sacs. For me, I find in the stories I hear a longing for the eternal to justify the mountaintops and rectify the valleys.

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