My grand-father was an incredible story teller. He was able to tell the same story over and over again and get people laughing every time. Sometimes he would even change the ending or add new characters. If people would argue and say “so and so wasn’t even there that day,” he’d reply: “I’m the one telling the story. Sit down and listen.” No matter how he told the story the lesson or the message would remain the same.
When I got a little older I wondered about which story was the true one? How had it really happened and who had really been there to witness it all? I often asked my parents and grand-parents questions and each time they would answer: “It doesn’t matter what the truth is as long as you get the point.” For years I tried to understand why reality wasn’t crucial in my grand-father’s stories but was absolutely important when it came to mine. I could never get away with a fib.
Then, one afternoon six months before my grand-father passed away my grand-father sat me down on his lap and said: “Don’t worry so much about the real and the unreal. Let yourself believe in what you experience in life no matter what others say. Remember that the truth doesn’t belong to anyone but you and that what you should share is only what you’ve learnt and healed.” It took me years to figure out what that meant exactly because for a long time I was preoccupied with the notion of reality and imaginary. I think that like every other teenager out there – it made sense that I spent years caught up in what others believed of me.
Today, I find that I’m a lot like my grand-father. I can repeat stories over and over again and people remain fascinated and interested. I often wonder if I should switch around some of the facts to make some of the accounts more exciting. I notice that no matter how many characters I add or how many emotions I enhance the end result always stays the same. Every one of my stories always transmit what I’ve learnt and what I’ve healed.
I also realize that I don’t know the truth behind most of my stories because my perspective doesn’t necessarily reveal the truth… I only hold one piece of the puzzle. I understand more and more why my ancestors didn’t like the idea of the written tradition. It somehow makes our stories rigid and incapable of mutating into the countless tales that many different people need. We’ve forgotten that our life experience isn’t meant to be recorded. It’s meant to be shared and to be used as an educational tool. On the other hand, I have to admit that I find it wonderful that we’ve kept some of the old stories because some of us need those too.