Shared Stories…

The British, Victorian prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, considered himself to be a serious traveler. He said, “I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen.” That statement is  a most cogent one in terms of life itself being a kind of journey, and I think it applies very well to how writers see the world, the one in which they travel physically, and the ones which they create through their authorship of stories, essays, poems, and books.

Life is a kind of time machine, but which travels in only one direction, at its own pace from birth to the grave, taking most of us through a series of visits to childhood, phases of other periods, like adolescence, marriage, careers, raising children, retirement, old age, and death. Along the way,  we make mental notes of people, places, sounds, smells, tastes, and other sensations, happy and sad, that we store away in those caverns of memory that become not only the sources of what we think, feel, and write, but of who we are.

The writer perhaps remembers (at least consciously) more detail from his experiences, but beyond that, he arranges them in patterns that express genuine human emotions through fears, hopes, and dreams that we all somehow share as a species. Also, the details in the writer’s mind may be rearranged, accommodating needs of plot, emotional catharsis,  and general design of the composition. Such recollection of detail comes from real life, but it is often put into new combinations and different orders, as in dreams. Writers also tend to create details, though they are not the only people to do this. Children are quite good at it too.

Everyone has a story to tell, and if we all had the chance to tell our stories (from the highest Nobel laureate to the vilest criminal), the world would probably be a much more peaceful place, because it would be based upon mutual understanding. In that sense, we are all writers, each with a tome of experience internalized over however many years he or she has lived, even though that tome may never become an actual printed book. Sometimes, walking down a street, riding in a plane, train, or buying groceries, I will look at another person briefly, wondering what his or her story might be, and I have the deep feeling that there would be no story that could be uninteresting if I could know all its connections and details.  Each of us is a combination of all the experiences he has ever had, every sensation, every encounter, every recollection, every heartache, and every joy. Imagine how different the world would be if everyone could share his complete story with everyone else. Perhaps that may be at least a part of what heaven is.  JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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One Response to Shared Stories…

  1. Nancy says:

    Yes, I liked your last statement and thought: Sharing our stories may be what heaven is like. We are all reduced to the same basic needs and wants and we all have a story to tell. I wish and hope younger people would understand this sooner rather than later. We are all here for a reason, our own special calling. I just ran across this quote which I loved: “The place God calls you to be is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s greatest hunger meet.” It’s from a book called Wishful Thinking by Frederick Buechner.

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