“Look directly into every mirror. Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story, and our story starts: We were here.”
– Shane Koyczan
It’s been seven years since it came out, but it’s a video that sticks in my memory. A reminder, not of a time when I was bullied (I was) or of a time I was the bully (I have been.) Rather, a reminder that in seven minutes and thirty-six seconds, you can change people’s minds. Not with facts, graphs, or funds. But with stories.
It was a project headed by poet Shane Koyczan, but featuring dozens of animators around the world. An animated video of his poem, To This Day, focusing on his own and other’s experiences with bullying, and how it affects them even today (though, as he says, they were lucky ones. They survived.)
When the video came out, I was in awe of the strength of his voice, his words, the images on the screen. I still am. And isn’t that the power of our stories? No matter the vehicle, through creativity we can change hearts and save lives.
It’s been seven years, and a lot of things have changed; others not so much. I can’t draw as much as I used to with my chronic pain—not nearly enough to my liking. But I manage a few times a week if I’m careful. (Not enough.) My dreams of becoming like those animators have come to a painful end.
But what I can do is write. I wrote Daylight Chasers to try and help others understand the whirlwind of grief from both inside the storm and outside looking in. I wrote The Fable of Wren as a reminder that though we cannot predict outcomes or hold close the things we love without losses, we can still find joy. I write Origami Bones to remind myself it’s okay for there to be a tomorrow without her.
(Sometimes, I can’t write at all. And that’s okay too.)
It’s been seven years, but I’m still in love with stories. I still watch that same video once in a while as a reminder, and to relive that moment.
Maybe it’s time for my own stories to take shape.