Wednesday, September 5, 2012


It's hard to talk about some things without being a "downer", so forgive me as I introduce that word that brings a shiver to many a spine - death - to this written conversation about storytelling and stories. Last week, a man I have known for, I'd say 11 or so years, passed away of a heart attack - at 44 years old! It was sudden, it was shocking, but like so many other things in life, it has been unexpectedly joyous. For in this past week, I have been a part of a chain of emails that have spoke of his love of bringing joy to children, his excellence as a father, and his compassion as a friend. The story of his life, as told by those of us left behind has been inspiring, moving, and uplifting, as opposed to sad and morose. It has made me remember that every day of my life, I am writing and telling my own life story - that every choice I make is another plot twist, that I - and no one else, is the author of. If I don't like how this story is playing out - I can change it, by the choices I make, by the actions I take. Like the folktales I love and tell, my story will be full of mystery, things I don't understand - but as a woman I met at a hospital told me, "There are some things that aren't ours to know." And, I love that! That though, yes, I can shape the story of my life by my deeds and words, there are always going to be things I cannot control, little surprises, little challenges that help keep me alive and alert, and remind me to be humble and grateful for this funny little gift called life. As I think over Vince's life - or what little I know of it - he was every bit as much of a hero as the one's in my story - for though life threw him curve balls, he kept in the game, kept going with a big full heart, always full of ideas. People sometimes ask me if I tell personal stories, and for the most part I don't. One little anecdote here or there, but I stick to folktales, because, frankly, my life has not been anywhere as interesting as the stories I find in folklore collections. But, maybe, maybe, if I live as fully, as courageously as Vince, one day, I will look at the story of my life, and find it has as much to tell, as the story of this wonderful man who just left this earth. Maybe, if I can continue to author my life in the noble and passionate way he did, as the heroes and heroines in folktales do, I will have a story worth sharing with others, a story that I can only hope will be as uplifting as the life of Vincenzo Tortorici's.

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