Her belly tightened. She inhaled, sharply–a reflex–and rubbed her palms over her abdomen. As the tightening subsided, she breathed again. But the next wave hit her before she could get off the couch to find the phone.
This was Ellie’s first pregnancy, and she wasn’t due for three more weeks. She’d insisted Matthew go to Chicago, kissing him out the door that morning as the winter’s first snowflakes fell on the car behind him. And it hadn’t stopped snowing yet.
It’s all new to us …
Giving birth or handling any emergency sets our actions into automatic motion. We run out of gas on a deserted road. Our elderly parents aren’t answering the phone–in another state. While hiking, we come upon a bear.
What can we do, especially if the situation is a new one for us?
Or is it?
Our brains’ database searches for stories we know. Whether in a book or a movie or a family story, we’ve learned from others’ experiences and this is why–to help us in similar situations.
Stories empower us.
Let’s do this …
We become participants in story as we read or watch or listen. We experience what the characters experience–biologically. Our brain lights up in the same areas as if we had been the character ourselves.
Birth stories teach us about miracles and strength.
Coming-of-age stories show us how difficult it can be to grow up while we discover with the protagonist that we, too, are unique and strong.
Love stories give us hope that there is someone for us, someone who understands us and accepts us for who we are.
Adventures allow a safer way to feel the thrill of events for those of us who might not put skydiving or war or swimming with dolphins on our bucket list but might like to try certain thrills.
Mysteries, crime, science fiction, historical and more have their own flavors, and since we all are different, provide us with stories that appeal to our own tastes.
Even contemporary fiction has a wide range to give us a glimpse into different cultures than we are in. Socioeconomic, gender, race, and religion differences–to name a few–blur in the pages of story.
Family stories told around the dinner table or at family gatherings tell us not only where we came from, but inspire us with what our ancestors have overcome.
Even though Ellie was alone, she was also the youngest sister of four. She’d listened to her sisters’ and many friends’ birth stories. She’d read, not just childbirth books, but also birth stories, and she knew what to expect.
But more importantly, her brain knew she could do it. Again, or so it thought.
Once she knew her midwife was on her way in her four-wheel drive Subaru, she called Matthew. Together–Matthew from his hotel room, Miss Cassie beside her–they encouraged Ellie as she labored to give birth to her first. But because of the stories she already held on to, she knew she could do it.
Hours later in the early dawn hours, she rocked her newborn baby. She stroked his soft cheek. And she told him his first story.
What’s the first story you can remember? Do you have a favorite type or genre of story?