Excerpt from Putting Back Together the Broken World
by Karen Yvonne Hamilton
Half of what I say is meaningless but I say it as a way to reach you (A Beatles Song)

How often have you read a story that touched you in such a way that you found your whole outlook on life changed? Or even a tiny aspect of that outlook? Most of us grew up with stories fairy tales, folklore, family stories, literature in school stories surrounded us. The ceremonies and rituals of our daily lives all center around the magic of these words that we hear, that we read, that we speak. Whether we are reading, hearing, or writing the story, words have the power to transform our lives. What is it that these words do that can make a healing experience in our lives?

The Native American poet, Joy Harjo says, “Stories create us. We create ourselves with stories (1).” Stories – the healing power of stories, the mutable nature of stories, a world made of stories, the long ago, time immemorial stories (2) . We seek to create ourselves anew, to solidify the identity we daydream about and we do this by telling stories. Can we create and recreate ourselves with stories? Can mere words promote healing for a confused people? Is it possible for us to find inner peace by simply re-writing our story?

Memoir Therapy is a form of autobiographical writing. It asks several questions – Where is our true story? Where is our true myth? Is there truth in our story at all? There are many versions of a life all are true, all are fiction. It depends on the time in which the life is being told. As Robert Elbaz states, “Autobiography is fiction, and fiction is autobiography. Factual truth is irrelevant to autobiography.” We change our story in order to create ourselves, but is it our self we are creating or the self as a cog in the wheel of society? The memoir writer has the opportunity to re-create themselves.

We gather strength from our words, from our stories. We set into motion a flood of communication that brings us healing. We listen to, we read, we write words, words, words – the meaning of the word is superfluous, it changes every time we reach for a new creation of our self. And is that all that matters in that end? That the stories themselves, not their meaning, give us the power to create ourselves?

(1)Harjo, Joy. The Spiral of Memory. Ed. Laura Coltelli. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1996.

(2)Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. NY: Penguin Books, 1977. p. 95.

(3)Lingis, Alphonso. The Murmur of the World.. The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1994. 69-105.