Knowing what stories are for and how to use them


It is perhaps timely that today’s post concerns Shakespeare’s great play, “Hamlet.” It is, after all, a ghost story. The British mythic storyteller Martin Shaw says the stories we most need now are here; they arrived right on schedule, three thousand years ago. “Hamlet” debuted in 1600, a mere 415 years ago, but Shakespeare drew from the much older medieval story of Amleth, which itself may have derived from an Old Icelandic poem.

While I’m fascinated by the impressively diverse sources of Shakespeare’s plays, I’m even more interested in how they are presented to modern audiences. I recently saw a production of my favorite play, “Hamlet,” that revealed far more of the director’s wish to be “relevant” to a modern audience than of the timeless themes and lessons inherent in the play itself. Her loyalty to our current cultural fascinations eclipsed the mythic struggle of the Prince of Denmark to live up to the pledge his father’s ghost forced from him. Continue reading

Trying on a new story about crying


This is an x-ray of my son’s left humerus. He tangled feet attempting to leap an opponent on the soccer field. Time suspended as he hovered horizontally cartoon-like, then landed WHUMP! flat on his back. Gravity snapped his arm near the shoulder. Before the orthopedist revealed this image with his diagnosis, he asked if my son had cried. He said, “This is a break that makes people cry.”

On the field of battle, right after it happened, Toby stood up without help. I was sitting three yards away in the stands, holding my breath. Knowing, as the mother of an adolescent son, my worst move would be to go to him. That mortification would hurt far worse than the arm. He did not cry while in company of coaches, trainers and teammates. He finally shed a few tears in the car on the way to the doctor. Continue reading

Celebrating one year of creating on the threshold


In the year since starting this blog, I’ve developed an appreciation for the value and joy of creating for its own sake. While I do enjoy interacting with readers, I also benefit from the practice of releasing control of outcomes. This has become a good place for me to keep learning this lesson:

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the strange pull of
what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.
~ Rumi

One of the strangest aspects of life on the threshold is discovering that it’s possible to make room for everything—the beauty and the ugliness, joy and despair, action and passivity, compassion and destruction. Maybe this is why I find myself thinking about urban street art, even while immersed in preparations for an upcoming Restorying retreat in the woods of West Virginia. Continue reading