When I was young, all of 11 or 12 years old, I loved stories about wizards. And, of course, I loved wizards. I, like all kids, had a list, duly recited upon demand of any aunt or grandparent, of "What I wanted to be when I grew up." Wizard ranked at the top, above even Stagecoach Driver.
Every Fourth of July, my family visited my grandparents in Crawford Nebraska, and every visit I sat next to my Grandfather as he drove the stagecoach at Fort Robinson State Park. We would ferry tourists in a long loop around the hills, kicking up a thin trail of dust behind us in the dry hot afternoons. My position on the driver's seat next to him was called "riding shotgun" and I took my lookout duties as seriously as if we were carrying the US Mail and black-hatted villains waited for us in every draw.
My grandfather drove a team of six horses as easily as you and I walk to the kitchen in a home we've lived in for years. He was an accomplished blacksmith and could have rebuilt the whole coach from the rims up if asked.
My grandfather *was* a stagecoach driver, perhaps the last soul in America who could fully claim that title… and still, following his tracks and becoming a stagecoach driver fell just under Being a Wizard.
Of course, even a that age, I was smart enough to keep my first career choice to myself. I knew no jaded grown-up would understand the deep and fiery passion I held for wizardry. Being a stagecoach driver just like my grandfather? That story would earn me rounds of beneficent applause, perfumed cheek assaults and, more-often-than-not, a cookie…*before dinner.*
So you can trust me fully when I tell you how amazed and blessed I feel today, to count myself in the ranks of wizards. Oh? Don't believe me? I can see it in your brow. You require proof of my wizardly powers do you? Well then, count yourself bespelled already. Missed it? Doubt it? Answer me this then, what does my grandfather look like? Is he a big man, or thin? What color was the Fort Robinson stagecoach? What did the wooden wheels sound like inside their metal rims? You have answers for all those questions don't you? How did they get here, in your head?
Those details weren't in my narrative. That was us, you and me together, sharing something that exists only *between* us. That was you fully believing in my fierce love for my grandfather because you've loved someone that way as well. That was your memory of childhood dreams shared with me in your understanding smile. Somewhere in the sharing of my story it became the shared experience of *our* story.
Storytelling isn't in the mind or mouth of the teller, or in the ears or brain of the listener. If we honor our stories, honor the courage of sharing, then something completely new comes into being between and around us, full of love and hope, and that is magic.
Storytelling is wizardry, plain and simple.
Try it. Share a bit of your day, or a memory, a triumph or shame. Share it and watch and listen to what happens. You are magic too.
Storytelling is wizardry, plain and simple. Or perhaps not so plain and simple, but still profoundly true.
Bonus question for those over 50… in your mind, did you see the whole stagecoach story in black and white? Thank you Gunsmoke!