Sunday, April 27, 2014

Biking through Stories

Biking through my suburban neighborhood is a good way to be assaulted by narrative.  The suburbanites are out in force today,  worshiping in the manner of our people everywhere.

They are mowing their lawns, working in their gardens, allowing workmen to upgrade or repair their houses, or showering love on their cars.

Pubescent boys are out playing various forms of ball or skateboarding.  My son, and most boys in his age range, are safely inside somewhere playing video games, because the sun is an anathema to all denizens of the night.  My son must trade half an hour of exercise for each hour he wishes to spend gaming.  He made arrangements yesterday so he could spend several hours today with his friends.

There are also the deeper stories.  I saw the woman who had never heard of Alzheimer's until her husband was diagnosed.  She was out for her daily constitutional.  She tried to pray his diagnosis away for awhile.  Now, she has ceased taking him to the doctor's office because they just keep telling her to consider putting him into a nursing home.  She's afraid of being alone, so, he lives in a chair in her living room, she frets about how bad he is getting, and leaves him alone twice a day so she can take a walk.

Then there is the woman who has a dog who was hit by a car.  She's been walking him slowly for a couple of months, and he is recovering nicely.

There are plenty of other stories that I wave at when I'm out biking, but I have no idea what they are.

Today, I heard an interesting ruckus at our neighborhood park.  I rode over to see what was doing, and came upon a wonderful thing.

Grown men were playing slow pitch softball on both baseball fields.  They were laughing, cheering for each other regardless of who was on which team, and nobody seemed to be keeping score.  There were no uniforms, no fancy gear, and everyone was having a good time.

A few fellows were smoking, and many of them were heavily tattooed.  I watched the game for a bit.

After the outfielders came in, a kid of about six was called to the plate.  They showed him how to hit the ball, and when he managed an infield fly the men pretended they could not field it so that he could make it to first base.  They made sure he got all the way home in the next two at bats and he was beaming as he came off the field.

As I was leaving, I asked a fellow who was missing his front teeth what was happening.

He told me that they were on an outing because each and every one of them was celebrating at least two years of being clean and sober.

I looked back at the faces on those fields.  Men laughing, throwing the ball, running - some doing well, others less successfully -  and loving every minute of it.  So many stories, and all of them had come to this moment.

I left the park and biked home.  I passed a neighbor who was cutting his small bit of lawn on a big, riding lawnmower.  I couldn't help but smile.  There had to be a story behind that.

As I turned into my cul-de-sac, two young men came skateboarding down the street.  They hailed me as the flew past.  I grinned.  At least two of the cult of darkness were out and around on this sunny day.

I leave tomorrow for Connecticut.  More telling, a conference, some workshops and then home again for more storytelling, workshops and writing.

In all of my wanderings I try to remember that everybody is in the midst of some kind of story.

May we all find moments of joy as deep as those fellows in the park.

Happy Story Hunting

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