I have these conversations with my daughters about reading and/or learning. For the most part they read from their little devices either blogs or posts on Tumblr or Instagram on the daily. For me, I come to WordPress to read blog posts on my Reader. All in all, it’s a way to escape reality. At times, it’s a way to connect. Other times it’s a treasure hunt for inspiration. Most days it’s all three. I just love how people re-create their experiences with words, photos, and art. And we love to share what we’re reading or what we read or saw. It’s about connecting.
This post is about gindaaso – reading or learning. (That statement is a reminder to myself to stay on track). Last summer, I read the complete collection of Harry Potter. My youngest daughter was reading it and was raving about it so I picked up the first book and was hooked. When I read any book I feel like I’m getting to know new friends and get to visit them in a world created just for them. The characters introduce me to more new friends some whom I despise or some whom I want to get to know better. In each case, I get neither. As a reader, you usually get to know the despicable ones more than the ones who are allies to the protagonist. And the latter usually dies first. Oh the humanity! But really, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Back to Potter. Happy birthday Harry! When you read the same books as your kids it’s a time to bond. When they’re too young to read on their own it’s a time for bonding and if you read to them all the time something fantastic starts to happen. They learn to read, to write, and learn about grammar. They learn about relationships. They learn about books and that there are so many types of books to read and get lost in. Or is it get discovered in? It really could be either. When my daughters were really young and we lived in Vancouver, we lived on a street that had a little neighborhood library on it. Talk about paradise! The funny thing is that’s the same time when Harry Potter was introduced to the world. Yet, our world was in picture books. Both were still magical times though.
When I was taking an English class back in the mid-90’s the professor talked about when books first started getting printed that’s when society started to change. He talked about it being about separation from a community to individuality. He was coming from a First Nations point-of-view where orators were central to shaping society and keeping the oral storytelling flowing from the past, present, and future like a river that goes on forever. Nowadays I think about what he said and how it’s truer. Now more than ever. I often see memes of people with their little devices. They are together and not together. They are connected and not connected. We live in a contrary world, don’t we?
We are all storytellers. Every day we tell stories. Some stories we tell ourselves are of who we are, who we believe we are, who think we are, who we strive to become, and who am I? Some of the stories we tell go in circles. Some stories we chase and can never catch. Some stories we dig for and we uncover and we just want to bury them again. Some stories there are only antagonists. Back in the day when oral storytelling was paramount in many societies around the globe, we all learned to be the hero of our story. We, the heroes, fought and triumphed. We, the heroes, were tricksters and gods. We, the heroes, inspired and created the world we now live in.
In the end, stories are meant to be shared and to learn from. Either in print, digital, and oral forms. It’s the holy trinity! Stories tie us together and shed light on our lives. Stories incite laughter and tears. Stories inspire change. Stories continue to shape who we are as individuals and as a community. Stories have the power to invoke the hero in us. Stories empower us to go beyond the nitty-gritty past.
And I’m also reminded that stories come in more forms. Not just human-made forms. Our oldest storyteller is the natural world, which is our oldest teacher too. That’s the story we’ve moved the furthest away from and I’m hopeful that we will reconnect with that part of our human story.