January 2, 2014

Creation Myths


Lately, my seven-year-old twins have been asking for us to tell them stories about themselves.  “Tell the one about how I danced before I even stood,” Elizabeth says. “Tell the one about when I was a kid and I checked that lady’s pants like they were diapers!” Eli says.  They especially love the funny ones.

It  reinforces for me the idea that we need stories.  It is a basic biological and psychological need and it’s how we make sense of the world and ourselves.  It’s how we form out identities. Creation myths.  “This is how I became a writer.” “This is how we met and got married.”  "This is what our family is all about.”  “This is what it means to be an American.”

So, without further ado, here are those stories.

“How Elizabeth Danced Before She Stood”

Elizabeth has always loved things that move.  She loved the baby swing and to be rocked, and she is a bit of an adrenalin-adventure type gal.  (I fear her teenage years.) She was a little baby and she couldn’t even stand yet.  Her Auntie Naomi was holding her standing up on her lap and singing “Boom chucka lucka lucka, boom chucka lucka lucka.” Elizabeth starting bouncing and bouncing.  She couldn’t keep her legs straight and support herself, but she could dance!

“How Eli Checked a Woman’s Pants”

I went to daycare to pick up the twins.  They were toddlers less than two.  They were out in the big room where parents were coming in and picking up their kids.  One mom was crouched down reaching for her child, and Eli came up and pulled out the back waistband of her pants.  As any parent knows, that’s what you do to check and see if a child’s diaper is dirty.  He was very kindly checking her pants for her.  She jumped up and went, “Wooo!” and then looked and laughed.

Both the kids find these stories hilarious, and they have me tell them over and over.  They must have reached some stage in their development where they’re becoming more conscious of themselves in relation to others and forming their identities more firmly.

But it makes me think of our writer creation stories.  “I’ve been writing my whole life.”  “I was destined to be a writer because my grandfather was a writer.”  “I suffered abuse as a child so of course I’m a writer.”  These creation myths are important to us, but because they become so pat and everything begins to seem like destiny, they can be disconcerting to others who hear them.  By that I mean, another possibly younger writer hearing a creation myth might think, “That didn’t happen to me. Maybe I’m not destined to be a writer.”  But the thing is, they’re stories like everything else, put together to give us meaning and justification and purpose. 

Maybe the best thing to do is to immediately go and put together a creation myth for yourself, if you haven’t already. Especially in this, the beginning of a new year.


Maria Giacchino said...

Love the idea of writing your own creation myth!

Tamara said...


Wish I was like Aimee Bender or Kevin Brockmeier and could weave in maybe a very small man or some other fantastical element!

eLPy said...

Those are pretty cute stories.

As I've gotten older I understand the importance of our stories, and our origins, in a way that I never got before. I've found myself hungry for the stories of my ancestors and more recent relatives. I keep wanting to stretch into the past and discover the people who have passed, the good and the bad. Their stories made them who they were and that affects who I am and even where I'm going. This makes me think about your post from today about being like icebergs. I want to know about the good and bad things they went to because sometimes personal issues and emotional problems get passed down; there may be a much older origin to something we deal with in the present.

I also appreciate how stories teach and show us progress or lack there of. What stories did we used to tell? What are our stories today? Stories allow us to connect with each other in ways that we could not otherwise.

Thank you for this post. :-)

Take care,

Tamara said...

Oh, I totally understand about the stories of your family. Aren't they fascinating? (I love living in an age where we can easily research these things.) And you're absolutely right - sometimes it feel like living in the aftermath of a war that you weren't alive for. You're just trying to figure out what happened and why things are the way that are.

I hope you're writing these stories down!!


eLPy said...

Thanks for that reminder to write about my family stories. As you know as a writer, there's so much going on in your head that you feel needs to be done, it's really easy for projects to get sidetracked.

I've written down some of what I learned but haven't revisited things in a little while. Although my maternal grandfather recently asked me if I know where I get my writing, I said, "yes, grandma" and he replied that my great-great-grandmother was also a writer! News to me that she was. He wants to sit me down and tell me more and wants me to write it down, I said sure thing!

You know having a newly published book too that sometimes marketing duties takeover writing projects. You speak with the little voice in my brain saying hey, work on some of your other projects! Lol.