Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the unchained tour.

"Longing is the only real magic we have."
- Edgar Oliver

You know I love books. I love how they feel and how they smell and how they look sitting on a shelf or resting in my hand or laying precariously on the edge of the bathtub. I love how the characters become my family and my friends, how an hour with a book feels like a trip back in time or forward to the future or across the ocean or right down the road. I love how books take me places and make me cry and have me giggling in the corner and inspire me to take adventures of my own.

What you may not know, though, is that while books are perhaps my favorite form of storytelling, I am really a sucker for it all.

I am, by nature, a pretty good listener. I love listening: to music, to nature, to song. I love that moment when I am captivated and my eyes get wide and I forget to breathe. Sometimes it happens when I'm reading, but it also happens when I'm taking in a new song or sitting in a concert hall or hearing the voice of a friend.

They say storytelling is powerful because it takes the specific and makes it universal.

It takes what is intimate to the person telling or writing or singing and it makes us care profoundly, about the person, sure, but really? About ourselves. About the deepest part of ourselves that the storyteller somehow touched without even holding our hands first.

On Monday night, Jordan and I made the 45-minute trek to Thomasville for The Unchained Tour, a collection of musicians and performers dedicated to the art of storytelling. You should know that I do most of this without really consulting Jordan. I somehow find these things online or in newspapers or thanks to a knowledgable friend, and I send Jordan the link, more or less coercing him into shelling out the $30 it takes for us to get out of town and get a little lost. He is, happily, more than willing to oblige, and I am never happier than when he is telling me how glad he is he married me, because somehow or another, I always find something for us to do next. He is constantly telling me thank you, even when the adventure is a bust or when the event doesn't go quite as planned. 

Monday, though, no thanks was really needed. No words had to be spoken, because we both were in absolute awe. 

I would have easily payed more than $30 for this. 

There was music and laughter and passion and language and a moment (you know those moments) where I honestly thought: This is what heaven must look like. Each story was told from a different perspective, but each perspective somehow resonated with me. And I am so grateful I believe in a God who tells stories, who understands the value and the good to be found in sharing words and life and dark and memories and light and humor and sadness.

Words are such powerful things. I can't even say why that is, just that as each storyteller began to near the end of their tale, I was in awe of the grace they each possessed in the finishing. As a girl who attempts her own stories every now and then, I will tell you: The end is always so hard. I do not ever really know what to do or how to say good-bye. But these artists brought their stories full circle without ever having to say so, and when they finally reached that last sentence, I realized I could finally breathe again. It was glorious.

After it was all over, Jordan looked at me, and he knew I'd liked it. I'm not a difficult book to read. When I am happy, I am ridiculously, giddily happy, and when I am sad or angry or hungry or annoyed: You will know. So Jordan didn't really even have to ask if I'd liked it. Instead, he asked if we'd do more of this if we lived in a bigger city, if we lived in Chicago or New York or Boston or D.C.

But good art, I think, is where you find it.

I could live in Chicago or New York or Boston or D.C. and never experience any more than I already do. The key, I think, is having an attitude of exploration, of seeking the good even when it is a little bit harder to find. It is having an open mind when the doors seem to be closed; it is being brave enough to travel a little bit outside the zone of comfort because that's where the magic happens.


Kari said...

Very cool. How'd you hear about it?

annie said...

@Kari- I actually subscribe to this bookstore's email list, so I bought tickets after reading the store's newsletter. I'd never heard of the Unchained Tour, though... just decided to buy the tickets and go. It could just as easily have been a bust... But it wasn't. It was awesome.

Brittany said...

Annie, I couldn't agree with you more! Art and inspiration will be where you look for it. I've felt just as inspired at small little galleries and community plays as I have felt at national museums and Broadway theaters. There is so much goodness and beauty everywhere.

Annie said...

I think story is so powerful because it gets down to the bones of who we are, of why we're here. And like you say, it touches us even though the storyteller doesn't know us, hasn't held our hands in the journey of life.

Your idea of heaven makes me wonder if we'll spend time in heaven doing that, too, sitting in circles, sharing our stories from earth of God's faithfulness and goodness and mercy, His love and His unending grace.

You say you don't know how to say good-bye in your pieces, and I don't know if you refer to your blog posts when you say that, but from one lit critic, writer, editor, and general bookworm to another, I have to tell you that you write some of the most compelling endings I've ever read.

I'm thinking now, though: isn't part of the magic, though, that with stories, mostly written, but even oral, we don't have to say good-bye? That we open the book again or ask someone to tell the story again, and we're lost in the magic. It never goes away; it merely goes to sleep.

TefMarie said...

That evening sounds like pure bliss!

I think one of the reasons I love hearing music live is that you hear the story behind it, more often than not, and it's one of my favorite things about the art form. Storytelling is powerful.