Friday, August 15, 2008
12:04:10 AM EDT
There are voyages of self-discovery to find out what you can do and what you've forgotten to do.
When I was 6 years old I told stories. We lived next to a park. There were wild areas in the park where trees, shrubs and bushes grew. One day a friend and I were playing there. He held up a strange piece of wood and asked me what i thought it was. I made up a story about it. He showed me other things and I made up stories about each of them. He must have done some word of mouth because the next weekend there were a lot of kids there all wanting to hear stories. I don't remember any of them but they were about Martians, people who lived underground, magic wands, etc.
A few years later we moved to a place that had a hammock in the back yard. Sometimes, after school, a couple of sisters would come over, sit in the hammock with me and ask for stories. They told me what they wanted to hear about and I would make up a story on the spot.
As a teenager I had a job as a life guard at an indoor pool watching some elementary school kids splash around. We came and left by the school bus. One day as we were getting on the bus to go back, the bus driver, a very nice guy, said to me that he had a splitting headache and that he hoped it would be a quiet ride. Since I was the last one on the bus I had to sit way at the back. The ride was anything but quiet. There was the usual screaming and yelling from a bunch of energized youngsters. So I began to tell a ghost story. Within a few minutes every kid on the bus was quiet and listening. I knew how the story would end, but I had to make sure it lasted until the bus was back at school. When we got there the kids all got off politely. The driver said "Thanks buddy. I owe you."
I worked with an actress named Diane. I lost track of her, but a few years later I read in the paper that she had been appointed the city story teller. I happened to see her on the subway one day and asked her about it. She said that she had gone to England to study and her acting teacher had told her that more than an actor she was a story teller. So she came back, got hired by the city and spent her career telling stories to people in the parks and community centers.
All actors are story tellers, I guess. At least we take other people's stories and make events out of them.
So now, retired, in my late 60's, what do I do? The same thing I did when I was 6. I tell stories.
Sometimes, in some ways, life does make some sort of sense.