To Restore Order, Instill Hope

Saving Mr. Banks

The hubs and I saw “Saving Mr. Banks” the other day. LOOOOOOVED it. Bawled through about a third of it, truth to tell – which we didn’t expect AT ALL! But when something rings true in music, film, theatre, art… well, turn on the waterworks! I’ve always been like that.

There was section of the movie, where Tom Hanks’ character is talking to Emma Thompson’s. (can you say “perfect casting”??). He’s finally “gotten” her. Understood why she’s been so difficult. Is eye to eye with her, talking quietly, from his heart. He’s sharing his deepest purpose for what he does.. and says,
“…That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”

My heart soared. My breath stopped. My eyes leaked. Yes! Yes!! That describes it perfectly… from the joy and sense the world made when my Mother read us stories as kids… to the way I feel about my art now, 50+ years later… that’s a beautiful summary. It’s what keeps me coming back, pouring my heart into the work I do – whatever it is. Because everything I do is about the story. But not just any story… the story of Uplifting.


Pollyanna as a Superpower

Some people used to call my mother “Pollyanna”. It was a term based on a Disney character (played in the original movie by Hayley Mills) who always saw the bright side of everything. These same people would say that mom saw through rose-colored glasses. She never felt bad about this… she saw it as her own personal superpower. And she felt her ability to do so was what helped her create a wonderful life. Which she did have!

I grew up more skeptical, not as trusting. But over time, I’ve come to better understand the power of what she was doing – and how to apply it in my own way.

I’m a storyteller. As an actress, a voice over artist, a show host, a photographer… I’ve told stories my entire life. Sometimes it’s other people’s stories, sometimes my own. Sometimes it’s the story of something amazing I was witness to.

The Responsibility in Storytelling

Of course, storytelling is all the rage now. But here’s the thing: there are different kinds of stories, with different intended impacts. Some make you feel good, some don’t. So I’m a bit cautious on the “tell a story” directive. I think we have to carefully consider what KIND of story we tell. I’ve heard stories that were ONLY intended to make me feel like crap. Others that do nothing but continue someone’s pattern of disappointment. Some horrify. And some… present a view of beauty, of light, of a way to be that involves looking up, not down. Those are the kinds of stories we need right now, in my opinion.

My choice: tell the ones that uplift. Make me feel good… make others feel good. Because the thing my Mother learned-for-sure and stood by to the very end was that it’s how and what you FEEL that determines your outcome in life. It’s not airy-fairy stuff; it’s literal. Focus on doing/having/thinking about the things that make you feel good… and those events/thoughts/accomplishments must follow.

So in my show The Chat, in my photography, in my speaking… in all the things I do now, I choose to tell a story that feels good. Some may call me Pollyanna. I don’t care. I’ve see the dark side, been to the brink. I’ve made my choice in life; and in the difference I want to make in my world.

It Takes Practice

It takes focus and discipline… but like the Dalai Lama said when offered condolences for the murder of several of his monks… by their own brethren. He said (in words to this effect): “Ah, yes, thank you for your thoughts. This is why we practice, for times like these when compassion is so necessary.”

It takes practice.
My Mom got it.
Walt Disney got it.
I finally got it… and am clear on the story of hope that I intend to tell.. over and over and over again.

Oh and this photo?
It’s something I came up with messing about late one night, involving a shot with my NEX-7 from Siena, Italy and one that I took at Castello di Amorosa whilst on a shoot.

It ended up being the perfect illustration for this story.