Stories are like mushrooms. Who knows where they start or end? Perhaps you stumble across one on a walk in the redwoods at dusk after a spring shower has drenched the earth and the conditions are just right. The setting sun streaks the trees in glowing bronze. The mulch beneath your feet sends tiny shock waves up your legs. And the musty air transports your brain far from your daily rat race. For a moment, the damp decay obliterates all thoughts of work, social media, schedules, shopping, exercise, or politics so that a kind of spaciousness can open – the kind in which a story, like a mushroom, can unfold.
You may assume the mushroom begins at the point where its cap is visible, unaware of the mass of mycelium hiding just below the surface. But unless you’re an expert at decoding its whorls and color, its allure will be daunting. So it is with stories. Like the mushroom, yours will have bright spots and dark spots, twists, and turns. Maybe even black holes where the canopy is so dense you can’t see the stars.
If you are brave (or foolish) enough dig down to your own roots, they may lead you through a dark labyrinth before you emerge again, like the mushroom cap, into the light. Yet unlike a death cap, even your most traumatic story won’t kill you. Quite the opposite. The catharsis of writing can be extremely healing for both writer and reader.
That was the challenge I undertook in writing my first memoir, Newcomers in an Ancient Land. Now I’m taking another deep dive into its sequel, Outsiders in France (working title). And just like mushroom hunting, this next story feels both daunting and intriguing. Stay tuned for excerpts so you can join on my next exciting journey.
E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle. “And then we emerged to see the stars again.” ~ Final line of Dante’s Inferno