The other day, I was reading a book that stated that most adults don’t know what their own interests are?we’re too wrapped up in work, in taking care of and pleasing other people and the like to actually pay attention to what nurtures our own sense of adventure and fun. Look to favorite childhood memories and activities, the author suggested, to reclaim what makes your heart sing.
An interesting idea.
The first thing that occurred to me?besides my voracious appetite for books?was my extensive collection of Barbies.
My friends would come over to play, bringing along their Barbie townhouse, Barbie beach van (or whatever that thing was called), and various other Mattel accoutrements. While they set up their dolls to play house or “day at the beach,” my Barbies were battling the untamed Congolese jungle in search of one of their own who had been lost there as a child. Or, they were French revolutionaries hiding out in the woods during the Reign of Terror (1793-1794). They also spent some time as Southerners trying to keep the family farm going during Reconstruction.
I once organized them into a witches’ coven intent on ridding their local community of evil; another time?when I was battling childhood insomnia?they were a baseball team trying to make it to the championships. One Quick Curl Barbie?after getting mangled (including a punctured breast) by the dog?got a new backstory: she was a cancer survivor who’d had a mastectomy. Outfitting a small overnight suitcase as a riverboat (the elasticized accessory pockets made perfect hammocks), my dolls were scientists floating down the Amazon while studying the wildlife and indigenous peoples.
Oddly, visiting friends weren’t quite as enamored of my Barbie games as I was.
And when I wasn’t installing one of the Barbies as President of the United States or having the lot of them gear up for an imminent extraterrestrial attack, I was writing stories about talking dogs, kids with telekinetic powers, intergalactic zoos, or Brady Bunch fan fiction.
(I am not making this up.)
I’d wondered where my adult interest in storytelling had come from?especially with my earlier aspirations of wanting to work for NASA as an astronaut and/or architect of space platforms and off-world bases, followed by my investment in religion and interfaith issues (why can’t we all get along?)?but now I guess it’s plain to see that storytelling has been with me from the beginning.
Like the time I made up a story about the plastic leis brought home from a birthday party?they were really gifts from my past-life Indian Chief father who had left a secret message buried in the colored spirals, and a special dance and chant were required during the unraveling to find it . . .
What are your storytelling roots?
Creative Commons photo by mharrsch.