This past weekend, my friends and I visited the Skirball Cultural Center, a museum in LA that tells history from a Jewish perspective, for their new exhibit on Harry Houdini, arguably the most amazing magician and escape artist the world has ever seen. The exhibit is incredible, and I highly recommend going to see it, but while you're at the Skirball I also highly recommend the permanent Noah's Ark exhibit they have, primarily for kids (or, in our case, for adults that act like kids).
The Noah's Ark exhibit is built like a huge ark that you walk through, with stuffed animals and cubby holes and other larger animals made out of all re-used, found objects like spatulas and rubber tires, and it has roped passages running along the top for kids to crawl through. My friends and I had a blast playing like little kids around this ark.
But something stuck with me besides just the playfulness. When you first enter into the exhibit, you sit down with your group around a pretend campfire and listen to a storyteller who tells you what you are about to experience. Our storyteller noted that across land and time, different cultures and religions from vastly different regions all had mythical stories about A Great Flood. The storyteller went on to explain that each culture's story of a Great Flood was very similar - it starts with rain. The winds pick up, the thunder booms and the lightening crashes, people gather their loved ones together into a boat or a house and they ride out the storm together, less afraid and strengthening the bonds of love with each other.
Our storyteller asked us - a few adults and mostly small children- what every flood story had in common after it started raining. The adults wavered. They got in a boat? "No, before that," our storyteller said. "What did the people do after it started raining but before it started flooding?"
A little boy raised his hand and said, "They told someone."
The storyteller pounced. "They told someone!" In every flood story, the main idea is not that it was pouring rain, or that there was a boat, but that the people told others and asked the ones they loved the most to get in the boat with them.
Ever feel like when it rains, it pours? That your own life is flooding? This past week has been like that, and even with its highs (successfully raising enough funds for a second season of my web-series; my kickass Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in over thirty years), I also hit some serious lows, most involving my car being in the shop for two days and me spending, once again, the equivalent of several months of car payments to get it fixed. Again. I've also been overwhelmed career-wise, and let's face it, I've just been feeling... well, like I was drowning.
But I'm ridiculously bad at telling someone. RIDICULOUSLY. Maybe it's the Robert Frost-Stiff Upper Lip-New Englander background, or the fact that I'm stubborn, or the fact that I like to focus on the positive and not talk about the negative. But whatever it is, when my life is flooding, I don't tell anyone. I just sort of sit there and watch as the water inches up past my chest and seethe. (I'm sure none of you know what I'm talking about here.)
But as I listened to this storyteller talk to the kids, I started to realize that maybe she was on to something here. After all, why do we tell stories in the first place? Why do we blog, why do we post Facebook statuses, when things aren't exactly going well in our life? I think we do them to gather up our friends and family, into one safe, small place, and feel comforted, and loved. And it doesn't start until you tell someone.
Lately I've been leaning a lot on Lira, my "sister", who has literally dropped what she's been doing and driven over to my place numerous times just to sit down and talk me through my discouragement, and I lean on Alyssa, my best bestie, who always knows exactly what to say and when to try to help me fix it and when to just listen, and of course, Benni, always Benni, being there, being consistently wonderful, picking my sad butt off the ground again and again and giving the best hugs in the world. But lately, I've brushed this amazing trio off with mutterings of "I don't want to talk about it," because I'm sick and tired of feeling like a burden, like my life is ALWAYS flooding in one capacity or another, and that I should just suck it up and fix my own damn problems without a word to anyone about needing help.
That hasn't really worked out so well, so glad you asked. So Plan B, which is supposed to be Plan A but it's funny how we reverse those sometimes, is going back to basics:
Pick myself off the ground. Put one foot in front of the other. And start telling someone.
5 months ago