Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 No comments
I had a harrowing night last night when our third floor toilet's water line broke. The problem went unnoticed for about 20 minutes, until the water started raining into the second floor, first floor and basement. The next few hours were eaten up with bailing, mopping, tamping down towels, laundering towels, running fans. Today as I slump around, fatigued and worried a ceiling might still collapse, I can't help but remember what my mother always says about these sorts of disasters: "it will make a good story later."

I think Mom's philosophy on life as narrative has shaped me in ways I'm only beginning to understand. If my life is a story, then it's the messes, mishaps and failures that actually make it interesting. Not that I seek these things out, but when disaster does occur, it carries with it the promise of bringing something ultimately transformative, maybe even redemptive. "It will make a good story later" makes me notice things I otherwise wouldn't, from the shape of stains on the ceiling to the way my husband's shoulders slump as he contemplates them.

Watching Mom over the years ferret away details in the midst of turmoil then transform them into captivating comic stories has been quite an education. Not only have I learned to see the humor potential in all things (and to never take myself too seriously), I've also gained a habit of attentiveness when life goes awry--a valuable skill in any writer's toolbox.

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