“ Forty three years old and the war occurred half a lifetime ago and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it last forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, where there is nothing to remember except the story.”
From The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien
A few years back my son Dylan had a school assignment to read the prolific and passionate work, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. He wasn’t enthusiastic about it, for he dislikes reading unless it’s about baseball or hunting. Since I’m an avid reader and lover of books, I dove right in and got myself a copy too. I figured that I could read it myself and maybe have meaningful conversations with Dylan about it.
I think as he read O’Brien prolific words, he started to think about war and the emotional and human cost it bears. We would talk about certain parts and I think that helped him with his assignment. As this progressed, I started writing notes from the text, fascinated with O’Brien’s words and feelings. It placed me in a soldier’s boots in Vietnam and into their fascinating but terrifying world. I loved O’Brien’s writing because it stirred up feelings inside my gut and that’s when you know it’s good.
Aside from war stories, I believe everyone has a distinct story. Every story is special , whether it’s heart breaking, life changing or remarkable, it doesn’t matter. It can reveal truths and explain why someone is the way he is. A story can trigger forgiveness and understanding. It can connect you to another time and place and that can be as exciting as being in the present. These tales need to be told to family members, friends and acquaintances for in life, a simple story can change everything.
Stories can sometimes be nightmares, told of horrors and indecencies that we would never wish upon our enemies. Yet even these stories need to be told, for they connect the past and present.If they weren’t told or recorded, then they would fade away and it would be as if they didn’t happen. When they are spoken from generation to generation, it remains real and it can teach lessons. We can always learn from events in the past and make sure our story is enacted differently.As Tim O’Brien says, stories are sometimes all we have when we forget how we got from where we were to where we are.
If you or your family has a special story, make sure to share it with others. Write it down in a journal or publish it for others to enjoy or learn from. Embrace the art of storytelling…around a dining room table or a cozy campfire. It doesn’t matter where you tell it, as long as you do!
I highly recommend this book, From the Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. It brought me right there, in the thick of the fight and I truly felt the misery and emotion. I loved his descriptive writing and it made me think about war and dying and a soldier’s sacrifice. I’m eternally grateful for all American soldiers and all that they have sacrificed for our way of life and our freedom. 🇺🇸
All My Best,
Heart and Soul 💗