I just got back from seeing Big Fish. I've experienced//seen//read//heard a lot of art that I wish I could share with people - more art of that kind than I have any right to expect. Tonight I saw another piece of art that goes in that category, but it's different than most. Most of the art I want to share with people is like the Iliad, or Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, or Tamora Pierce's Tortall books. Or it might be dreaming of waltzing (performance art) with my wife to The Corrs' version of Erin Shore, or to Jennifer Knapp's Martyrs & Thieves. In other words, it's mostly art that has to do with being a man. Put it another way: it's art about what I want to be. Or put it yet another way: it's art about who I believe I was created to be. It's about being a husband and a father, and there is no dream in my heart rooted deeper than that. But tonight, as I said, I saw something different. I saw a piece of art that was about stories and a man who told them.
Four years ago Ms. Poole told me that no matter what anyone said, I would always be a writer. Just a month or so ago Shanah Van said that, deep down, I am a theatre person. I don't think those are false statements, but if you were to ask me about it, I'd say that deep down I am a storyteller.
I saw Big Fish tonight and I saw a film about a man who told stories that told who he was. I think that's what got me most of all, what's making me write this now instead of going to sleep and writing it tomorrow afternoon. We tell - I tell - stories because we must, but the stories we tell are poured out of our hearts. I am glad to read anything the Jennies want me to read, of course - but the magic of it is that they want to hear the books that I want to read. I am glad to roleplay in any game that is well played, well crafted, and well run - but the magic of Phoenix Earth draws me back time and again.
The stories are the ways in which we reach out to the world. They are romance, in the Natalian sense; that is, they are how we say, this is what my heart looks like inside. For this reason I have always regretted that Rose never got to see a Phoenix Earth session. She and Alanna saw me roleplaying once, in Mirrielees, but not for very long and not in a very good game or a very good session. She knows what I mean when I say roleplaying, I suppose, as do many of my friends in various ways (who could forget roleplaying with Shanah over skit writing?). But do they understand Phoenix Earth? Have I told them the story of the rise and fall of man as my heart bids me tell it?
Of course everyone has their romances, and one can't expect everyone to sit through everyone else's. The hearts of man are more variegated than that. But still the hope is in me, the fairy tale, that to those dearest to me I will one day be able to tell these stories:
The Song of the Lioness
The Protector of the Small
Gates of Fire
Will I tell those stories to my children? Will I grow old telling them to my wife? Will they hear the stories of Dienekes and Polynikes and Alanna and Jonathan and Keladry and Nealan and all the Phoenix Earth and see them in my heart? That is a mystery too wonderful for me, surely. But if they never know the names, I pray that at least, when the tears pour down my cheeks as I read for the hundredth time of Polynikes standing alone against the horizon, they will know my heart and in that way understand.