Carvers talk about freeing a figure from the stone in which it lies waiting. Painters speak of the gradual revelation of the painting revealed by brush strokes. And writers talk about how a story takes twists and turns they could never have anticipated.
Andrew Wyeth expressed this sense of unveiling, of anticipation, of the unexpected in this quote:
Years ago, Mike Connelly wrote the words below in a story called “Swinger Goes to Town.” It appeared in the January-February 2000 issue of Orion, and Utne Reader republished it here. I loved the story he weaves through it, about a cow named Swinger.
The story, and the whole piece, is one of the best arguments I’ve come across that we need to ratchet down the rhetoric and stoke up the stories if we want to change anyone’s mind…about anything.
Now if only I could remember that when someone gets me fired up about some issue.
Environmentalists need to tell more stories, not pass more laws. And they need to listen more closely to the stories of those they hope to change, and to realize that people who are forced to change don’t stay changed any longer than they have to. People can, and will, change themselves by the stories they tell, and by the subtle changes they make to stories they have inherited. We will not replace their stories. We have no business replacing their stories. We should show our manners and be grateful to have a place around their fire, and a turn to speak. ~ Mike Connelly, “Swinger Goes to Town”
I came across this quote by Andrew Wyeth and stopped breathing for a moment. We are all like the winter he describes, the bone structure in our landscapes hides the story beneath. When we feel safe, we share bits and pieces of it. Rarely do we reveal the whole landscape.