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How Stories Heal

Robin Rice

There are stories, and then there are stories. The old stories, and new stories told in the old way, are not the kind of stories you see very often on television, or even at the movies. The old stories, and the new ones that are crafted in the old way, can heal. If you have to ask if a story is true, it's not a true story. True stories are true, even if the facts are all wrong, or never happened at all. The true part of the story is what makes a healing story.

You may think I'm leading you around in circles, talking this way about stories. But that is how the old stories work. They are not about beginnings, middles and ends. They are not even about the scenery, characters or events. They are about the things that happen in every spiral walk of life, again and again, to everyone. You probably circled around these truths in your life a few times already. You surely circled around them in your last life, and the one before that. The old stories heal because they remind you, somewhere deep inside, that you ran into troubles something like this once before, maybe in a land (or galaxy) far, far away.

When the old story tellers told the stories, the listeners didn't mind when the facts were stretched, or told differently than the time before. They knew that most of the old stories were not told to make you feel safe and secure, and to assure you everything would always be easy. More often, the old stories were told to unsettle you, shake you up, make you think, and feel, and imagine, and help you make good decisions, and grow wise and strong for the hard times that are another true part of life. The old stories address the part of you that is still incomplete, and in completing you a little more, you can move your own story forward in a more complete way.

That is how stories heal. They fill in the blanks with truths that make the imagination soar, the body shiver, the heart pound, and the eyes well up. They bring the listener home to a place that does not exist anywhere but inside him or herself.

Truth be told, as it must, the very best healing stories really just fill the empty part of you with more you. But then, isn't that “missing you” what ails you most?