Friday, February 18, 2011

The Traveler

This month at the Midnight Fire blog has been about storytelling and this is, too, really.

A few years ago I spent the entire time onboard a plane crossing the Atlantic in conversation with an old lady. She wasn’t really wealthy and never had been, but had had money enough, had used those she had to see the world. She had been traveling all her adult life and had many great stories to tell, from all over the planet, from countless different cultures and viewpoints. It was one of the most enticing flights I’ve ever had, and in spite of not having slept for almost twenty hours I wasn’t tired at all, but awake and happy and encouraged beyond words afterwards.

I could see the concealed frown on her brow, though, and waited patiently for the reason for it to reveal itself, to confirm my suspicion.

She finally asked me, almost at the end of the flight, why I, «a fairly young man» spent hours in the company of «an old hag». I explained it to her, in more detail than I had earlier. I told her that I was a traveler myself, and that I enjoyed listening to other travelers, and that hearing her stories felt so precious to me, and would be, should have been to all mankind.

It was a poignant moment, bittersweet and great. I witnessed how she glowed in gratitude and joy and a certain kind of sadness, as I did, too. She had rarely been appreciated for what she was, for her yearnings and experience. Such is the world today.

But she had seen it, seen how it truly is, how it should be, at least during many brief glimpses, and I told her so.

We haven’t met again, but I know we will, know that our paths will cross again, many times, in the centuries and millennia to come.

The reason the Neanderthals are extinct

The Storyteller

A varied and good life




BodieP said...

I liked this, Amos. One of the greatest resources we have is the wisdom of our elders, and all too often it goes unrecognized. My grandfather was a storyteller, and I was privileged to not just visit him, but live and work with him. And all the while we worked, he told me stories, over and over again. I've been writing them down--and have been so happy to realize that even though he's been gone for nearly twenty years, as I write I can still hear his voice, and see his face. I still haven't decided exactly what to do with such an immense gift as he left me in his stories, but somewhere, somehow, I'll find a way to pass them on.

Karen Martin Sampson said...

As I have gotten older I have often wished I had taken more interest in and written down the stories my grandfather told. They remain in my heart in any case. Thank you for stopping by my blog so that I could come visit you in return. I read back several postings and I shall watch for new ones with great interest. Writing has always been very important to me and I look forward to reading your books.

Amos Keppler said...

Thank you both. I listened to her because she had something important to say and I sensed a kindred spirit, of course.

It's like Laurie Anderson says about his father after he had died in the song World Without End: "it was like an entire library burned down". All that information and life and experience gone. It should be better preserved, somehow.

And Karen, please consider dropping me some feedback, positive or negative after you've read my books. :)