I like stories.
Well, no. I love stories. I could even take it further and boast that stories are my life. Everyone has their purpose; they have a role in the divine orchestration of life. Some people were placed on this planet to teach, others to play sports, and some to even set foot on the moon. And while every individual on this planet serves a role just as important and potentially influential as the next, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my role in life is to tell stories.
I was a little late on the whole “reading” thing when I was growing up. Call it ADD or a horribly poor book selection, but I just didn’t read books. Maybe I was impatient, or better yet, maybe I was a slow reader. But this isn’t to say that I was never educated on the power of a narrative. Sure, I didn’t read much, but I studied a different kind of literature: I watched movies. I watched multiple movies a day every day, and somehow, that still wasn’t enough. I watched, re-watched, enjoyed, ate, slept, and breathed movies. I lived them.
It wasn’t just the special effects, it wasn’t just the action, and it wasn’t just the humor in the films I watched, it was all of them combined. It was the story that entertained me. It was the story that compelled me, and it was the story that inspired me to tell my own.
When I ponder the art and purpose of storytelling, I always think of the film The Sandlot. Yeah, it’s an awesome flick about an awesome sport where every kid in the film models awesome PF Flyers, but there’s one scene in particular that always stands out to me. It’s the one where Michael “Squints” Palledorous stages himself atop a wooden trunk in his backyard treehouse, and in front of him is an eager audience with hungry ears. They clutch their pillows and wait in anticipation for Squints to begin his story. Squints’s flashlight clicks on, illuminating his face from beneath his chin, and his story begins.
The story goes on about how some evil junkyard owner in the 1920s trained some huge dog thing to attack and kill all the junkyard thieves. Whatever. The content of Squint’s story wasn’t the part that grasped my attention. Instead, it was his audience’s reaction that grasped my attention. All the sandlot kids were so engrossed in Squints’s every word; they hung onto every sound and syllable that he spoke. As I saw the sandlot kids’ reaction to the “story of the beast,” I saw myself. I was just like those kids listening to Squints’s story, except the story I was watching was on a TV. And it was at that moment of realization that it hit me. I could be all those sandlot kids listening to Squints’s story, or I could be Squints. I could tell the stories. I could be a writer, and my pen could be could be a camera. I could entertain, teach, move, inspire.
Squints did it with just a couple of words and a flashlight, imagine what could be done with a camera and a proper script.