Stories – Part 1

Without stories, we would have nothing but a single fleeting moment, already gone even as you hold the beginning of this sentence in your mind.

It’s the stories we tell that give us context and meaning. It’s the stories that let us understand other people. It’s the stories that build bridges, walls, and footpaths between and among us.

Without stories, nothing has any meaning.

We, ourselves, attribute whatever meaning we want to events. Then we enshrine that meaning in story. We tell those stories, with that meaning, over and over until we believe the stories we have told.

We know that every story has two sides. We tell each other that, and we know it’s true.

So which story do we believe, when they conflict?

Too often, the one that lies easiest in the pattern we have already woven.

If it fits neatly with our ongoing story, we absorb it, and seamlessly add it to the fabric of our selves.

But some stories are different. Some stories demand that we change that fabric. That we cut some threads, that we pick apart our weaving, that we dig down and rearrange the very warp of our souls and lives, to make room for a truth so strong, so shining, so imperative that we cannot ignore it.

If we’re lucky, those changes come from stories we are told, not stories we have to live.

Either way, though, changes will come. It’s part of the story.

Photo attribution: “colorwarp2-060207” by Ruth Temple is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.  No changes were made to the image.


The Red Squirrel

So, yesterday I said that I’d start to post some of the 300 word writing exercises I’ve done. Here’s the first one. Exactly 300 words! Let me know what you think in the comments.


We have a red squirrel that lives in our yard.

He stands on the edge of the deck rail, alert and ever vigilant, like a miniature paranoid monarch, surveying his domain. All this is his, and no one better forget it for a moment!

Objectively, he’s incredibly cute. For one thing, he’s tiny; less than half the size of the other squirrels. With his russet fur, white tummy, and bushy tail tipped with black, he’s utterly adorable standing on his little hind paws, with his front paws clutched to his chest like a diminutive Napoleon.

Napoleon being the operative word.

If one of the other squirrels dares to approach his den under the brush pile, he’s off like a flash to defend it! He moves so quickly he appears to simply vanish at times. Then we can hear him, scolding and harassing the interloper until the latter is vanquished. As soon as he is, flash! There’s the red squirrel back on the rail.

Woe betide anyone who tries to steal a sunflower seed when he wants one! I’ve seen him roll on his back, eyes flashing, all four claws slashing at his opponent. The other squirrels retreat, scrambling to the safety of the grill, or down the steps to the derelict bird bath. Anything to escape the wrath of the Red Squirrel!

For he is tiny, but lo, he is totally insane! And mighty in his insanity!

Sometimes, he puts me in mind of certain politicians. He’s not better than his opponents. He’s just crazier, and people give crazy a wide berth. Crazy can also be charismatic, if you do it really, really well. I think that’s what the politicians are doing.

But really, I’d rather have our squirrel in office. He may be mad, but at least he’s darling!