Last week I went to The Power of Storytelling, the greatest conference I’ve ever been so far. Organised by DOR, what I love about this conference is that people truly listen here. Sometimes is so quiet that you can almost feel the tension in the room full of thousands.
And even though I don’t know where the theme of this year’s conference came from, I love it and most of all, I get it!
It reminded me how much I love stories and why I should keep telling my own.
So for 2 days, I’ve tried to find out if stories heal. Or think if stories healed me somehow. I didn’t succeed finding an answer throughout the conference, but now that I am on a train I’ve opened the goodie bag where I found the cards that I was supposed to mail to speakers. Thanking them somehow of their great work and inspiring speeches. I didn’t get to thank them not because I didn’t know about the cards earlier during the conference, but because a single word didn’t come out. But I promise to lay my thank you words on every new Word document I open as part of my writing stories ritual.
I am a strong believer of Liz Gilbert’s philosophy of Big Magic and I am certain that beautiful new ideas were transferred into us, into every storyteller in that room, enchanted by the inspiring stories we’ve heard.
So, getting back to the question: do stories heal? I am still trying to get an answer on this train, a private operator, which is supposed to take me to my hometown, Ploiesti. And memories come back every time I travel alone. And not all of them are beautiful memories. The train – not particularly this train – was a place of healing for me.
It was a time in my early twenties where I used to travel a lot Ploiesti-Bucharest, back and forth, every working day for a few months. I had a part-time job in Bucharest that I was grateful for but still not making enough money to live alone in the capital so I had to compromise and stay with my parents for a while.
The job was not a thrilling one but it kept me on my path to get a new better job in digital marketing just how I’ve wanted. So every day when the clock showed that my paid working hours were done, I rushed to Gara de Nord where my train was expecting me. Here, in this train full of strangers, there wasn’t someone I knew and could have asked me about my present and my future. This was the only time where I thought no one will judge me. Not my parents, not my relatives, not my friends or ex-colleagues. I had one free hour with myself, time to heal from disappointment, frustration, despair and anger. Like the train, my feelings were going back and forth ‘cause in the end, I’ve wanted to succeed. But It just seemed too long.
At the conference, one of the speakers said that everyone has baggage and we carry it with ourselves maybe for a lifetime. I had such baggage and I opened it on the train. Oh, how I loved to suffer and complain! I still do it sometimes and right away I am ashamed ‘cause I remember the time where I’ve complained a lot to myself. Exactly on that train. My one hour commute was with a blue lazy train, where people used to leave a bunch of sunflower seeds on the floor, drink beer and talk loud. So I’ve always had a pair of headsets with me where I could put on repeat songs of Adele’s 21 and 19. Sadness was part of an entertainment show I’ve put for myself on this free hour that I had ‘cause I thought I was special but unfortunately nothing special happened to me and no one – like there was supposed to be someone – would give a fuck.
My sad show was about broken heart, about loosing, the guilt of laziness, which I still have, about lack of courage – I have this too, about not being smart enough, incomplete, ugly, fat, a loner. You see, all this time and all this mourning was a healing process. I got rid of that sadness at a constant pace, like that slow train that stops even in stations where you could not think of finding someone on the platform. I don’t remember how exactly I found writing again in my life but I put there all the unhappy thoughts to rest. Then I found reading again and stories. Lots of stories that field my head with new ideas I was going to write about.
Then I healed.
Back on the train, years later, I am still alone with my thoughts. I am 30 already and I still have questions about myself. Questions which seem to recreate a Spice Girls song. What do I want? Who I am? Who I want to be? Another millennial’s episode drama.
The thing is that I don’t think I’ve got rid of that full baggage 7 years ago or somehow I’ve managed to produce a new one ‘cause mixed feelings come back together right now. But my commute thought me something. I’ve always loved my imaginary life and I used to fill my head with various scenarios that kept me busy and eager to write about. And I still do. Every sad or happy thought is waiting for me, on my new Word document. Now my stories keep me away from sadness, from losing sense and trust in me and others.
My stories heal me.