Storyteller’s Yearning

Couldn’t stop laughing tonight as I tried to read a “Star Wars” 5-minute story to the kid to help her fall asleep. We are huddled together in one bed at a hotel, staying the night out of town to visit my brother and his soon-to-be-bride. I try to make Chewbacca’s Wookiee speech noises. It’s a miserable failure. But what makes me laugh uncontrollably is when my wife keeps trying to do her Wookiee sounds and insists how much more accurate her equally ridiculous moans are than mine. All three of us are in stitches.

My life consists of so many more moments like these than they have. I’m filling up much less of my time these days with late night anxieties and pressure to produce and procure. Much more of it is filled with bits of unforgettable, drawing pictures with my daughter, listening to kids as they work out their crazies, giving thought to a book I’m reading or a film I just watched.

I continue to teach graduate pre-teacher classes and to coach teachers. But I also find, at last, after so much striving, some space to breathe. And think.

And to write. I hope.

I need to tell stories. My daughter, thankfully, still not ten years old and very slowly approaching the adolescence around the corner, still wants to hear my stories. Still wants to make them up with me. And I find this hunger that’s been around for as long as I’ve been conscious to write and draw stories, bubbling up, looking to come out.

It’s been waiting, a very quiet but growing discontent with the busyness of my life. To be sure, what I’ve been busy with has been storyteller’s trades. Teaching, reading, preaching, writing, talking. I’m not laboring in any fields or lifting any shovels. There’s no pity deserved here for the worn and oppressed worker, longing to break free. I’ve had it good. I’ve lived my dreams.

But once you’ve done that, what do you do? Ten years ago, I think I felt some sense of that satisfaction, and then I started graduate school. Ten years later, after finishing that doctorate, after raising up the kid, after mom’s cancer and passing, after trying out near-academia and realizing I wanted something different… what now?

Here is where the laughter that brought my family peacefully to sleep brings me now to this late hour. I face the quiet, asking God what I’m supposed to do. I am supposed to learn to tell stories, as my Teacher did. They are to be stories that tell the truth about who we are, as well as stories that imagine the truth we can’t see of who we are supposed to be.

With all the gifts I’ve been given, it’s the last I should do.