Storytellers often suffer from two types of pain.
These pains are a part of how we emotionally deal with the job of storytelling. They should not be approached lightly. If you are experience these pains you should avoid seeking the medical attention of alcohol, drugs, or the too extreme option of giving up.
Instead, try to understand why you feel the pain and how you can create to counteract the symptoms you may be experiencing below.
Pain #1 - The Roots
The first pain is the pain of holding onto a story. This happens when you’ve carried around an idea and let it grow inside of you. The idea begins to take roots that poke out through your body, begging for release.
There was a time when I couldn’t stop thinking about addiction. I thought about addiction as it’s struck my sister. I read into the topic searching for meaning. I formed deep sympathies with those suffering and then I held onto a story idea. I carried around the pain the character felt for too long. I was unable to explain my emotions and held it all inside.
The symptoms: This sort of pain is a swelling. It begins to appear at first in waves and then into your daily life. You’ll hear the character’s voice or constantly think back to the emotion associated with the idea. It will feel like your own emotions. You may obsessive seek out other stories or experiences in relation to your story. It will grow and grow inside of you until you start writing. You may deal with psychological symptoms of guilt, dread, anxiety, fear, shame while avoiding the story. You are essentially avoiding yourself.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” - Maya Angelou
This week Marc and I move in together.
We’ve been talking about moving to Detroit for a while and we finally found a nice and affordable place to rent at the right time. Timing is key.
After being together for two years I feel very strongly about this choice. We’ve become stronger. But it wasn’t always that way.
Both Marc and I are entrepreneurs and by definition we are overly passionate about our work, obsessive at times. When we started working together on projects almost immediately into the relationship, it nearly tore us apart.
I know what you’re thinking, isn’t the phrase the opposite? Not this time. This time my uncle has quite literally found his marbles.
My Uncle Joe is the mastermind behind the Detroit urban farm our family has. We call it Hadad farms and it’s located on the lower east side of Detroit (see the tumblr if you'd like). He’s the youngest of my mother’s siblings, and the only man in the family. He is sharp around the edges, a smart man, but rough in his delivery. His humor is not for the soft at heart but that is why we love him.
Almost every day my uncle comes to my grandma’s house to visit, to tend to the garden, and to make sure everything is going alright. We have a lot in common. He works hard to build up the farm and to care for it. He’s always worked hard. A mechanic and a farmer, he works with his hands and enjoys the work.
We both love to work in this way. To dedicate ourselves to something greater, to give it all away in the end. When we first started to expand the garden he told me it just felt like the right thing to do. We don’t make money from it. We don’t do anything else with it but care the once abandoned land and share the food with anyone who is in need. And in Detroit my grandmother, our family, and many others have had their times of need.
The garden is now becoming an entity all on its own. You cannot not care for it entirely. It is so much work, so much dedication. You can feel it breathing, growing. It is my uncle’s greatest work.
We arrived to Edinburgh flying into a thick sheet of fog. The fog followed us everywhere the first few days of our trip to the UK, but only as jetlag. We rented a flat near Hollyrood park that was cozy; its windows showing us the layers of hills and cottages at the edge of the little city.
We walked and walked that first night in town with our friends Hannah and Brian who married that weekend. The city was large but small, winding towards a tall castle on a hill. All of the buildings were not red brick or white or colored with bright street art like Detroit. Here everything was grey, chiseled into the stone of Medieval time.
It was strange to arrive to this new place, to see so much history, so far beyond the little city and young country I am from. It makes me wonder, where does it all fit in? Where are we in the crooked lines of cobbled stone, ancient stories of long ago?