Yesterday, I wrote about Elif Şafak‘s words on the importance of stories – on breaking down walls, expanding circles and enjoying in the overlapping of those circles. Although you wouldn’t know it from my current profession, a professor of statistics, research methods and policy analysis, I do firmly feel that stories make the world go round. The telling of stories is very important to me as a teacher trying to engage students in a difficult topic (though I have not yet tried fairy tales) – but also as a human living life.
As a tiny child, my sister and I sat enthralled, in the bathtub, as my mother read us stories each night. She conned us into take our nightly bath for years – just so that we could hear the next chapter of……..the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, all of the Little House on the Prairie books – the massive set of Oz books nobody knows beyond The Wizard of Oz – and so many more. The stories even continued once we got out of the bath and into bed, snug as a bug in a rug. Our last story of the night was always some sort of fairy tale. Yes, we read through the horrific Brother’s Grimm (nightmares and all) – but also through the various tales of Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights and, volume by volume, the Andrew Lang series of fairy books – one per color (silver, gold, violet, etc.). It was these stories – and their impossible opportunity – that captivated me the most of all the stories my mom read to us. Why can’t humans turn into birds and fly? Why can’t animals talk? Why can’t magic mirrors speak? Why can’t time freeze in place? Why can’t tree spirits plant flowers? Why can’t purple be a character all on her own? Etcetera.
These fairy stories set my imagination on fire – and as a child I became quite a writer myself, publishing poetry in a few journals around age 10 (terrible stuff, don’t know why the published it). I was in special writing classes – and writing camps as a fairly young person – but as an unpopular and old-fashioned sort of a kid – this was not really cool. In perhaps one of the most regretted mistakes of my life, I turned down entry into the coveted “art band” cohort – a set of classes just for kids skilled in the arts and writing. Only the “weird” kids joined it. Alas, it was a long time before I embraced my inner weird – and by that time – the opportunity was all gone.
As life wound its way along, I lost my writing practice as Ann Lamott might call it – and moved on to other things…but have returned to creative (vs. academic) writing over the past two years as an outlet of sorts. The Karagöz puppets have been the means to this end – always inspiring me to set my pen to proverbial paper on this laptop – and to write about what is going on – to be more present than my breakneck-paced job and life afford me. I am writing in order to try to take more control of life. To actually, well, to actually live life a bit more and observe upon it and to learn – and to just plain have fun, let’s be honest.
As I am writing this, Esma the hippie puppet is enthralled in one story from the Silver Fairy Book – she just lifted her head to tell me – “so that’s where you got the idea of rose petals and jasmine blooms coming out of my mouth and ears when I am elated and happy – from this story of the curse of the princess who have frogs and toads come out of her mouth – and then rubies and diamonds- gosh – that couldn’t be very comfortable, could it?” Leaving Esma to her enjoyment of the story,
So, thank you fairy stories, for opening my eyes and my writing hands and mind. And thank you, Karagöz puppets, for taking me the rest of the way on the beginning of this new writing journey. Karagöz snorts at this soft-hearted patter. Hacivad Bey nods his head approvingly, stating the following from the Mevlana himself: “Your eyelashes will write on my heart the poem that could never come from the pen of a poet.”
- The Twelve Days of Christmas: Karagöz puppet-style (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Elif Şafak on stories as wall-breakers: Crossing circles, moving between (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- On the 1st day of Christmas: Meet Esma, the hippie Karagöz puppet (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- How many Oz books been banned (wiki.answers.com)