Guest blog by Kerry Olohan
So there we were at a friend’s house for dinner, celebrating her birthday with about 8 other people, all of whom we had never met before. One by one, we all took turns going around the table talking about our ‘creative’ personalities, for we were all of the creative variety, to one degree or another.
When the conversation stopped on me, and my friend interjected, “Kerry is a great writer and story teller”, I paused, deer caught in the headlights. I stepped up and said a gracious, “Thank you, you are too kind,” but she continued, “We went and watched Kerry perform last night and she had a fascinating story of finding out about this other family of hers when she was a teenager.”
These strangers seated around me, looked on, puzzled, so, I elaborated and told them a very condensed version of my 10 minute story from the previous night. I told them how I had read some writings of my brothers and learned that my Dad had been married before and that he had three kids by his first wife. I was 17 years old at the time and it was, and still is, pretty traumatic. As is the way, with most of the reactions to that particular story, they all shook their heads in disbelief, and mumbled something about family secrets, and more or less, left it. More or less.
A tall, good looking Tango-dancer was seated beside me. He turned toward me, very controlled, and proper, looked me square in the eyes with sincere bemusement and said, “Kerry, why would you choose to do this? Choose to storytell? To tell that story?” I stammered. I was a bit surprised. Why does anyone choose to be creative; to dance, or to sing, or to play an instrument? Mainly because it is within us and we enjoy it, right? But his question went deeper. His question probed depths that I had not really examined, for while the writing of the story was a very creative outlet, the telling of the story was more an act of exacting disclosure, a figurative disrobing, a metaphorical doorway into our own psyche. Indeed, why would I be so complacent in letting people into my own mind to see that? It is frightening in there by myself, let alone with the rest of the world parked at the window waiting for the matinee to begin. Why would I be exposing this?
When I need to write, I feel so compelled to write, that if I do not somehow get the words out of me on to a clean tablet, a piece of me will surely die. At times, when words and sentences fly from my mind on to the crisp white pages, I am at a loss as to how or why they actually arrived there, only that by them landing there, I have become lighter and less burdened. I tell you this now, as I try to compact my 300 Gigabytes of data, in order for more data to fit on my hard drives. I write a lot. I share a little.
It is in this sharing that also leads to a feeling of being ‘less burdened’. I have never really liked the word, “Normal”, nor have I entirely understood all of its complexities, however since I am now officially in ‘mid-life’, I have come to embrace the fact that my feelings, actions, and life-stories, are fairly normal , still maintaining that they contain a level of uniqueness that I can live with, as well. By sharing my stories, it is my hope that others may experience themselves as “Normal” and maybe, collectively come together more, both within the smaller circle of this creative community and as a society in general. Is it diving out of my own comfort zone? Most definitely. Is it nerve shattering and exhilarating all at once? Yes. Does it feel at times like I am taking one for the team? Yes. Is there a VERY thin line between being brave and being stupid? Yes. So, I share these stories in the hopes that it brings people together, that it opens dialogues within families and communities, and that simply by the telling of these stories, there is maybe, just maybe, one person out there that really connects with it and feels a bit better because of it. Our stories matter. It is who we are.