I had come to love the cinema...the way you could just sit on your own in the dark and forget who you were, just let yourself feel what the film was telling you to feel for an hour or so.~Matt Haig (From How To Stop Time)
The movie began...I am the last man on earth. I wanted to find out the man's story. I hunger for story. I am hooked in just a phrase or sentence. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times... Call me Ishmael. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Once upon a time...
First lines pull me forward. I try my hand at the art of first lines with my own books. (I would never compare my attempts with those great masters I quote above.) I will always remember that it was a sunny day. Emily King wakes up this morning believing she needs to do something different. I live on an island and drive over a bridge every day to work. I saw him through the sliding glass door, his back to me. First lines emit the mood, release the first whiffs of the story line's fragrance. First lines and first scenes can be entirely pleasurable, whether they reflect joy or fear, melancholy or delight. Humans love stories, because we all have one.
The science fiction movie I watched, Last Words, told the story of the remaining people on earth after an ecological castastrophe. An old man kept canisters of old film reels of movies and creates a makeshift projector to show them. He shares the films with a younger man who has never seen movies before. And, of course, even in the desolate, arid leftovers of the earth, cinema become an oasis of laughter and drama, a way to forget the horror of the reality for just a moment. A way to feel less lonely, even if one is alone.
When I was still working in the counseling field and conducting group therapy, often I needn't say much. I just acted as a means to facilitate the stories that poured out of the participants. The universality of story almost always works its magic. "If you can be brave, I can be brave." "If you decided to choose sobriety, I can too." Even in one-on-one therapy, I became the witness to story. I listened. Allowed space and words for a person's unique narrative.
I surmise that God loves story, too, as He so loves to create and has created us to create. So keep at it, dear readers. Let your stories flow through your art. Do not give up. Don't put your paintings and poems in a drawer. Don't delete your digital creations. Get the notes of your song recorded. Let the words and songs and images loose. We need them now more than ever. We crave them.