A World Seven Billion Stories Deep, at the Very Least

Stories beget stories. I was group leading on sessions of discussions recently and we touched on subjects such as spaces from our childhoods: places of found sacred, secret and otherwise special significance. I watched as people told their tales of far-off times, of places in the far-off east and hidden oases of desert kingdoms: stories fed into stories, faces changed, bodies shifted. Stories told rooted out the hidden treasures of stories in others, whose tales came blinking out into the light.

When we talk of our individual truths — with the colouring of the exotic otherness each of us holds over any other — we hold all the glitter and the stardust of the universe in our palms. We should treat our tales told, and the tales we hear, with reverence. Each story has its own flavour, texture, rich- and deepness. Each story is unique in the world.

There are seven billion stories in the world, at least; there must be more. I see flickerings of television screen offerings: cities teeming with possibilities of the overlapping stories of all its inhabitants, and more. How many stories does the vessel of each of us hold? How many stories overlap and, in doing so, become coloured, washed, textured differently with each perspective telling? There are seven billion stories in the world at the very, very least. There are more. How many stories have ever been?

The planet is one vast book of tales. The stories we just don’t see . . . I’m intrigued by the smallest things. So when I see and hear a group of tellers digging into their pasts to bring forth the sacred delicacies of their childhood haunts, and the faces on the listeners fall into such moments from afar, even for seconds at a time I see new stories — such as these here — start to unfold.

I took a walk, days later: I saw three children sitting on a doorstep playing cards, reading comics, just the way I did when I was their age. I saw them for a few seconds and I was taken back and back. The stories I’d forgotten, or kept in keepsake corners in my memory, found their way up and in. Today I read back on blog posts and see the tales I’ve told myself, over the years, start to weave their way into the telling of my writing. We’re each of us made of stories, comprised of personal parts of legends and micro-mythologies of time and place. We’re woven with the significances of others who, in that moment of their love and impact, pressed themselves to our skins — and beneath — for ever more.

We may be skin and bones and liquids but our hard and soft material selves regenerate over time; the stories that we’re made of are our elemental permanent selves. That we choose to give them away, strangely, only makes them stronger inside of us. Our stories given out and over have the power to transfix the listening other: such is the gravity they amass in time. Stories beget stories, and they — seven billion or so at the very, very least — fizz in the air around us and in the essences of us all.

Tell me something . . .

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