Homer's Story goes on percolating below the surface of my life; I'll continue it here soon.
Of the teachers in my life, who not only taught me but many, and who I knew personally, the last was Daniel Wright. He used to occasionally announce "story night," and a group of us would gather in a big room and tell stories, anecdotes from the communal history of Padanaram. We still do this occasionally, though Daniel has passed over ten years ago. We gather in the "old school" around an open fireplace. Maybe we pick a number out of a hat, and when our number is called we tell a story that comes to mind. Last time, I talked about my friend who died, a drunken artist named Jerry, of whom I was very fond. I'll write about him here in this space someday.
I like this space, I find it very relaxing. When people are relaxed, the best stories come up. Today it is already too late in the morning for peace. The phone is ringing, a trip is coming up tomorrow, people are coming and going.
The best publication I know for stories, whether invented, fantasized, or memoir, is The Sun. And this reminds me, I have to renew my subscription. I believe it's $36/year, but there is no advertising in it. I haven't had any luck getting anything of mine published there, but I may try again sometime. One of my favorite sections of that magazine is called "Readers Write," and it's always around a certain chosen theme.
A great way to dislodge stories from memory is to attend a workshop of the Foundation for Community Encouragement. These are held in order to give people an experience of "true community," but a big part of this is people's stories. Some folks have a sort of continuing, ongoing "story" that they can't stop themselves from telling. We all know people like this. In an FCE workshop someone is always trying to nudge or provoke you into telling a deeper story, a more authentic story. This brings conflict and chaos into the group, and this has to run its course. People are defensive about wanting others to hear their habitual stories. For new stories to emerge, there must be silence, acceptance of limitations of time and place and personality, and attentiveness, both within and without. This can be extraordinarily difficult to achieve in a group setting. A deeply moving personal story usually cannot be born without excruciating pain, and this pain is beyond individual endurance. When the pain can be shared in a group, the story can come out. In this way, we become other people. We become more than a mere solitary self.
If this movement can be continued over time, under the guidance of an inspired teacher like Mel Lyman or Daniel Wright, then a "group soul" can be born. Usually it takes a time, a period of years, of communal living, of total sacrifice of the self.