Shelter from the storm

open, yes we're open

It’s 10 years since Katrina and Rita and the levees broke. If you haven’t read Lolis Eric Elie’s magnificent piece “The Whys” on The Bitter Southerner you really ought to. It resonates with my own meager experience rebuilding in New Orleans for a week, in that every person I met had a story to tell about their flood experience, about their rebuilding decisions.

No, that’s not right – not just a story to tell. A story to share, a story to ask us to carry. An invitation to help them process, as they made decisions about possessions, and places. Maybe a request to be remembered as an individual, not as a statistic in a historical episode.

That is part of the point of storytelling, in any form. Memoir, fiction, nonfiction, mashup – we try to make a connection, form a bond, refute entropy. We make stories, and make sense; in telling or listening, we expand ourselves.

And maybe that’s the context which explains why I took a recent post by Alan Levine to heart.

The Stream is a funny thing. A friend sharing pain, a cat video, an echo from the political chamber, a friend announcing joy. When the same information feed serves as my newspaper, my editorial magazine, my entertainment, and my connection to my friends, it’s hard to remember to treasure those acts of deep sharing.

still from Ghostbusters
“You said crossing the streams was bad!” – Peter Venkman

So, I guess, we beat on, boats against the tide. We smash the Like button, we write “hooray” or “I’m sorry” or “I’m with you.” We retweet and reshare, and we hope it’s enough to make the world a safe space for stories. Sometimes we open an email or pick up the phone. Or we write a letter to the papers or the government and we give money and we vote. And sometimes, we open a word processor or blog post or image or video or audio editor and make art, dammit.

All because we hold you in our hearts. Because we listened, and we grew, and we bonded, and we remember.

“open, yes we’re open” by Derek Bridges, CC-BY 2.0 at

Still from Ghostbusters, from

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