“Movies are made up of moments we remember.” ~ Kevin Costner
I think all stories are. At least the ones that stick with us. It’s why I’m drawn to writing so much from my own life. Not sweeping events. But moments. A sliver of time when something crystallized for me.
I’ve been thinking about why I write about the subjects I do. Much of what I pen are moments from my life that made an impact, both large and small. I’ll remember something that still seems important, even in the smallest of ways. When I write them down their meaning becomes clear. It may not be an overwhelming realization; rather, a clarification of something in the shadows. And I have found that even these small, personal moments seem to almost always have universal resonance.
To refer back to Mr. Costner when thinking of some of the films I love, a whole movie doesn’t unspool before me so much as one or two moments that define the essence of the film. When Scout is walking Boo Radley back to his house at the end of To Kill A Mockingbird, holding his hand and guiding him to the front door, there is a melancholy yet hopeful ache that rises in my chest…When Charles Norstadt, having just graduated from a military academy and receiving congratulations from his family, scans the crowd for the one person who truly impacted his life. At the very last minute, Justin MacCleod. The Man Without A Face, having been there all along, mentor and the only believer in young Charles, turns to catch his eye and they wave to each other – which hitches my throat every time….or when we’re brought into Sam Neil and Laura Dern’s wide-eyed expressions and then the camera pans up to reveal the massive brontosaurs of Jurassic Park, we along with the actors, cannot help but believe that dinosaurs once again rule the Earth. These moments and hundreds more like them move us and represent what is most glorious about storytelling. Transportation and belief.
And so it is with the stories I tell from my own life. A thousand moments that are protruding corners of a treasure chest sticking out of sand as well as full stories within themselves seem to bubble up at various times, demanding to be told…The glee of Mark Leabo’s face as he first shares his idea for the junior high haunted house…the cherubic laughter and by turns serious shadow that covers Eddie Linnum’s face as he relates to me the events of living aboard a B-17 at the height of the war…the mud-packed schoolyard at Harrison elementary on an Autumn recess as a football is hurled high, headed my way…the half-smile of my father’s face as he glances at me sideways just before he responds to another one of my hyper-delivered Marx Brother’s lines…these are the moments that have made up some of the stories I tell, as well as the moments of my life.
Each moment has a story to tell. And in the telling, I only hope I do them justice.