Stories as self-care.
Self-care beyond capitalism is an essential part of our creative wellbeing. Of course, there’s a good chance that self-care within capitalism is also a part of our lives. The difference is that one requires a financial transaction to take place in order to gain access to something good. The other does not. What’s more, self-care beyond capitalism is not the kind of one-and-done activity that is easily consumed and disposed of.
One such facet of self-care beyond capitalism is storytelling. As humans, we are storytelling animals. Stories help us make sense of ourselves and the world. They teach and inspire and connect us. Stories have the power to give us hope and empathy for others whose narratives differ from our own. In times when we feel most alone or challenged or in pain, it is stories that can help us persist.
In their simplest form, stories require very little to come into being. Just you and your imagination. And as the story inside you grows, you might find you seek out others to share it with. Of course, at some point, you may choose to put pen to paper or to turn your epic into a movie or song or performance. But you don’t have to. It’s enough to tell yourself stories—and seek out others’ tales—as a means of filling yourself up.
One of the most nourishing things about stories is that they continue. Unlike a face mask or a yoga class, stories keep feeding us. They might even grow more substantial over time. There’s no barrier to access when it comes to storytelling. While an understanding of literary tools and devices might make storytelling easier, they’re not essential. Storytelling is a self-sharpening sword. The more we tell our stories, the more precise they get.
Then there is the inherently communal element of storytelling. Stories give us a reason to gather. They offer a way to bridge the gap with strangers and/or folx who we are unsure how to initiate dialogue with. Even more magical is the way that stories can help us to negotiate our differences in a way that feels less threatening. We can talk about a story as a way to indirectly talk about ourselves and each other.
Capitalism's influence over the practice of self-care is complex and complicated. And maybe, even when it comes to storytelling, it’s impossible to take care of ourselves in a way that’s completely beyond its touch. Even so, I don’t think stories and the act of sharing them loses its power and potency. Storytelling can sustain and transform us if we let it. It can give us the strength and resolve we need to keep making art.
So, how do you practice storytelling as self-care in your life?