Life is just too big (and beautiful and tragic and magical and heartbreaking…) for one person to experience it all first hand. That’s why stories, in both real-life and fiction, are such wondrous and powerful things.
- Entertain, engage and help us think, relate and understand in ways our day-to-day lives can’t.
- Let us experience places, emotions, and points of view we’d never get otherwise and with these new experiences comes the opportunity for new insights, feelings, and considerations.
- Give us something to talk about, something to celebrate, reasons to laugh, to cry, to change.
- Offer a (usually cost-effective and hopefully entertaining) much-needed break from our needy, never-ending selves, thoughts, and problems.
- Crack open our minds and hearts, help us dream new dreams and believe in magic once-forgotten, even if it’s just for a little while.
My favorite story moments are the ones that make my chests tighten and my eyes burn in a way that reminds me I’m a human among humans, that we’re all tightly wound balls of mess and potential. Hilariously flawed. Beautifully hopeless. Cruel and kind to unimaginable extremes, and still almost always capable of more than we think.
When I think of my most favorite story moments, one of the first that always comes to mind is from Terms of Endearment, the 1983 Best Picture winner starring Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, and Debra Winger. It’s Shirley MacClaine (as Aurora Greenway) at the hospital near the end of her daughter’s illness. She’s circling the nurses station, desperate, afraid, and fighting for her girl who is dying and in pain. Aurora’s perfectly manicured composure melts away and we see in a raw, exposed moment just how little she can do for her daughter.
“Give my daughter the shot! Give it to her. You said she only had to hold until ten. It’s past ten. GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!”
It’s a sit-down-and-shut-your-mouth kind of scene and it’s capped off when the nurse rushes off (for the shot) and Aurora smooths her hair and her collar and says thank you, **almost** instantly back to her normally unflappable outward composure. It gets me every time and I don’t think it’s a ‘just a mother thing’ because it did before I even thought of having kids of my own.
That’s a pretty heavy example. There are great stories moments that span the entire range of human emotion, but even when they’re hilarious, if they’re really good, you get the same core reaction. There’s a recognition, a sort of connection. To me, that’s story power, alive and well and working over you with ninja-precision.
How can you not love that?
Did anyone else love the ‘give my daughter the shot’ scene? Do you agree / disagree it’s more powerful for mothers? What are some of your most favorite / memorable story moments? The first one that comes to mind?
Image Credit: A Story Book comes to life https://flic.kr/p/8HdcZT by Don Kennedy – Largo, FL license link https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/