“I had to write. I had to write to save my life.” – Hurricane Carter
That may not have been the actual words. In fact, it’s probably nothing like what was said. I remember reading a quote from Rubin “Hurricane” Carter years and years ago, in print nonetheless. I think it was Rolling Stone magazine. He quipped how he turned to writing in order to capture his life, which in turn gave him direction, gave him purpose, and “saved his soul”. I always remembered if not the quote but the essence of the short statement. It stuck with me. Unfortunately, even in the Internet Age I’ve never been able to Google those words or anything remotely from him that resembled his powerful statement.
Did Carter actually say those words, paraphrased, or was it someone else? Was it Woody Allen? Nelson Mandela? It’s now slipped into the ethereal of my consciousness but nonetheless “stuck in my craw”.
A couple of years ago I was egged on to start a blog. I’ve done the travelling in my life, and seen some interesting things. None of which I think satisfies the threshold of others who’ve scaled Everest or spent time amongst the Tuareg or lived through the civil wars of the Caucasus. However. As I’ve said before, I’ve known many wonderful and captivating storytellers.
You can have had the opportunity to travel to every corner of the globe, but be deficient in the ability to translate that to others. On the other hand, you may have had the life confined to a close radius but still live such an interesting life that would fill volumes in a library. My brother Jack is a testament to this remarkable skill.
Storytelling is indeed a dying art. Oral storytelling is even more endangered in this era of attention deficit and short-attention spans. There was a day generations ago, when folks would sit around the office water cooler and tell expanded jokes. (“A guy walks into a bar…”) In fact, the art of joke telling has been dying the same fate of oral storytelling, all due to the hands of the Internet. People rarely tell jokes like they did years ago. Now, people just make references to movie scenes and there’s a communal head nod and subtle laugh, all within about 5 seconds. Which is the attention span of most people in this digital age.
Now to blogs. I’ve learned painfully that blogs need to be short and sweet. When I was an airman in the USAF, one of my first bosses introduced me to the concept of ‘KISS’; Keep It Simple Stupid. I’ve realized that blog posts have to be short and to the point. People are inundated, in fact swamped, with data every second, every hour. The shocking, the vivid, the titillating, the funny cat videos, grab people’s attention. Diatribes and lengthy posts on human nature are like those black and white documentaries on channel 898 that get overlooked within a heartbeat.
Why I Blog. I continue to write posts about TRUE events, sometimes embellished but never made up, about events in my life from my aging perspective. Storytelling is indeed a dying art. It’s something that won’t be appreciated until it’s well dead and buried. But telling those stories, for the storyteller, with the emphasis on tone, timing and anticipation, is cathartic and a way to provide healing for the writer and sometimes the reader.
That’s why I write. To save my life.
The storyteller of Marrakech: