Not only do we carry our stories, we are made of them. How brilliant is that? Almost as powerful as when astronomer Carl Sagan commented, “We’re made of star stuff! Some part of our being knows the cosmos is where we came from and we long to return.” Who wouldn’t want to be made of a bit of intergalactic matter?
Through the millennia, human beings have used stories to communicate and share ideas, experiences, dreams, and connect. When we take a moment to unite and relate to one another, we begin to see the timeless and true cohesive bond we all intrinsically share. For me, stories have been narrative medicine, offering a deeper understanding of myself and those around me.
My profound experience during this yearlong journey of meeting and interviewing women of all ages and cultures has been life altering. Some of the women I have known for years and others I had just met, yet each encounter reconfirmed what I already knew deep down inside. We all shoulder along stories of love and loss, birth and death, joy and grief, delight and sadness.
If we are fortunate enough to find a safe person and a protected place, we can convey the stories of pain—whether they are our own physical, emotional and spiritual pain, the pain of our loved ones, or the pain of the world we live in. I know that each of the twenty-four women in this book offered that sanctuary to me, and I to them.
We define ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves: the descriptions of who we are, who we think we are, and who we want to be. I am telling myself “stories” now, as I become a smidgen anxious thinking about getting on stage and talking in front of people. Introducing this book to a wider audience is going to be a whole new experience for me; venturing out of my babe cave and revealing myself in a larger context seems daunting. Each version I play out in my head exposes a different story; they are all accurate, yet perhaps over-exaggerated. My hands get shaky and my neck beads with sweat merely thinking about putting myself front and center.
Could it be that when I interviewed certain women for S.H.E., they felt the same way…a bit apprehensive? I never noticed. What I did detect, however, was the simple act of having intimate conversations made someone feel like they mattered, myself included.
I am and will always be an advocate of honoring each other’s life’s strengths and struggles. That seems to be the best form of gathering the wisdom of humanity that we can offer to one another. Everyone around us has a story that must be encouraged to rise to the surface, so that the world can hear it. All the stories I have heard and continue to hear link me in some way to my past, present and future, unite me to my vulnerable storyteller on a deeper level, and connect me with the universe of stories within and around each of us.
We are all “supernova storytellers,” never outshining each other, only swirling together—an entire galaxy of stars.