Stories As Light: The Necessity of Stories to Heal, Connect and Empower

(A short speech from the Stories As Light event at Orinda Theater on December 6, 2017)
By Elizabeth Perlman, Executive Director of TIWP

Thank you all for joining us at this beautiful gathering of writers and readers! Together we are here to celebrate the power and necessity of stories, stories that cast a light even (and perhaps especially) when the world seems dark.

Tonight we have come together to celebrate “The Season of Light,” the one month when we work to generate our own light. Lately I’ve been reading about the science of light, and I want to share something I can’t stop thinking about. Apparently, there is no real darkness, just a universe of what is called “non-visible light,” all the frequencies and wavelengths our eyes just aren’t able to see—even though the light surrounds us! They say our eyes can only register what they’re able to focus upon. I believe the best way to focus our sight is to tell stories. Stories show us the light that’s been hidden, all the light that lives inside of us but would be otherwise “non-visible.”

When we hear other people’s stories, we realize we’re not alone, that we are connected and supported by larger cosmic forces. When we tell our own story, we find meaning and beauty in what appeared to be chaos. And when we keep writing, when we make a practice of writing, we come to see the love that can survive anything.

Despite the incredible self-reliance that can now be achieved with just an iPhone and Amazon Prime, the truth of is that we are still the same people we were when we first cuddled together in the caves, twenty thousand years ago. No matter how sophisticated our technology, the truth is that we all still need each other, because we all still need to be seen. And heard. And passionately encouraged.

While writing can always be done on your own, thank God, I believe there’s something that’s even more powerful than writing on your own and that is writing in community.

For me, the most awe-inspiring thing I’ve ever experienced is the light that shines from girls when they are safe and free to write together, to write and share what they’ve written, to be seen, heard and passionately encouraged. The light that shines from our young women is the brightest light I’ve ever seen.

The Magic is:  we all contain this light! We just don’t know what’s inside us until we write it down. And we don’t know how important it is, unless someone else reflects it back to us. It is by listening to each other that we become mirrors, reflecting the light and making it visible.

Stories are light because we are light, and we need each other to heal and to grow and to shine.

Tonight, I hope you will use this time to simply be, and to celebrate the light that is glowing inside you, right this minute, as if your heart is a sun!—which I believe it is.

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