I grabbed The Amazing Spider-Man at the library the other day and finally got around to watching it. It came out last summer and is a reboot of the Spider-Man series. For those not in the know (i.e., me) it stars Andrew Garfield (who?) instead of Tobey Maguire. Basically swapping one geek for another (Garfield had a role in The Social Network playing the techie geek who got screwed out of Facebook).
I’m not a big fan of Spider-Man, but it’s another super hero movie and those can be fun.
Instead it was tired. It was the same story we saw in 2002’s Spider-Man, same origin story, same speech from his uncle about responsibility (though they were very careful not to use the oft-quoted line “with great power comes great responsibility”), same New Yorkers that came to Spider-Man’s rescue at a critical moment (a bit of post-9/11 over-reaction back in 2002, at least this time it had a motivation rooted in the story).
I know Hollywood is in love with the remake, that it’s easy box office money and sometimes that can be fun. Sometimes you do need to dust off something that was done a long time ago and revisit it for a new generation with new effects and a different spin. But a mere decade later? With practically the same approach?
I love stories. But why do we have to keep telling the same ones over and over again? At least take the story somewhere new. Sing a new song. Explore some new territory. Make a new myth. I get tired of reading my kids the same story over and over again, and I get tired of watching the same movie over and over again, even if it’s in a slightly new skin.
And yes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is now filming, to come out in 2014.
One of my favorite memories from my grandpa’s funeral is sitting around his kitchen with my cousins telling stories and jokes. That little kitchen filled up with people and laughter again, which my grandpa would have enjoyed. My grandpa was old and it was his time to go, but that act of storytelling helped to heal the wound of losing him.
I finished reading Tell Me a Story by Scott McClellan this week. It’s good stuff (you can read my review for more). Something Scott talks about in the book that I resonate with is the idea that telling stories can be healing.
I’m not a particularly good storyteller—that’s probably why I’m a writer. I like to edit and rework and figure out how best to tell a story. I work better in the written word than the spoken word. But I think part of what draws me to the word is telling stories. It’s self-indulgent, but one of the things I like to write is simply telling stories about my life. In some ways, I think that’s because there’s healing happening there. The telling of stories allows me to process, to figure things out, to think things through and find meaning or comfort or grace.
That’s probably why, in my moments of greatest distress, I turn to writing. I tell the story. Some of those stories aren’t meant to be told to anyone but myself, but still I tell them.
In adoption, I think this is why it’s important that we tell the stories. It’s easy to gloss over what could be uncomfortable details and avoid those stories. But by telling those adoption stories, we give voice to them, we shine a light on any “messy” details and we find a way to embrace them. A story gives us the narrative to do that. It gives us a voice and something to cling to when we’re confused or fearful.
How about a story about a grill for the Fourth of July?
About a month ago grilling season began in earnest (we had a rainy spring around here) and we discovered that our grill had finally succumbed to rust. Of the two burners, only one would stay lit and the flames were iffy at best, spilling out of the rusty burner in such a haphazard fashion they were barely safe for hot dogs. Which is a sad state of affairs for grilling season. Trying to replace the burner went nowhere. The grill was done. Which is a sad end to a good grill.
The grill was a wedding present from my brother. But we lived in Minnesota, he lived in Michigan and the wedding was in Wisconsin. The car he drove to the wedding was too small to transport the grill, so it stayed in Michigan until the next time we visited. No big deal. But 11 months later when we returned to Michigan we no longer had the truck I was driving when we got married. We were now driving a little four-door sedan with a non-grill compatible trunk. So the grill came out of the box in order to fit in the trunk. This was back before grills came ready for “quick assembly.” We had a thousand grill parts wedged between our luggage. Remarkably we managed to get all the parts in the car and were finally able to take our wedding present home.
Home to our apartment that lacked a balcony and a patio. The grill parts went into the closet.
Two and a half years later we bought a house and were hosting a painting party with promised grill food for anyone willing to help. I was still at work, so one of the volunteers, our friend Lance, was assigned the job of assembling the grill parts. Cries of “‘Le grille’?! What the hell is that?!” could be heard all day long.
And so three and a half years after our wedding the wedding present was finally put to good use. Grilling season had begun.
Last week we realized we’d lost enough of grilling season with nothing to show for it but poorly cooked hot dogs. So last night we picked up a new grill and Abby assembled it today (yes, I do enjoy sub-contracting my grill assembly work). We christened the new grill on the Fourth of July with grilled chicken for pizza that neither of our kids would eat. We convinced Lexi to try a piece of grilled chicken and she actually spit it out and declared it gross. Except for the hot dogs, grilling season is lost on her.
So we have a new grill. It doesn’t have as cool of a story as the old grill, but it provided flame-cooked meat on the Fourth of July. What more can you ask for?
I’ve been working in church communications since 2004 and this week I went to my first church communications conference. Two of them actually. Making up for lost time, I guess. I hit up Cultivate in Chicago and Story in Aurora, Ill. (I had to skip out on the second day workshop portion of Story). It was a great couple days of getting out of the house and meeting folks I’ve followed online for years but never actually met. Of course I’m also an introvert, so it was a bit overwhelming and I wanted to curl up and be alone on several occasions.
Getting to the events was a miracle in itself. I owe a big debt to my mother-in-law for watching the kids, Michael Buckingham for splitting a hotel room with me, Cultivate for being cheap, Story for hooking me up with a free ticket, Brad Abare and Matt Kerner for posing as chaufers, and United for having cheap flights to Chicago. Thanks!
Cultivate vs. Story
The two events are like a study in contrasts. While the subject matter was the same (church communication) the style and approach of the two events couldn’t be more different.
Writing is just about writing. Perfectionism says it needs to be perfect, which is crazy. Your story is like your life… it is not done. Don’t wait for it to be done before you share it. Often you audience helps guide your story.
What I love about this is the acknowledgement that we all have stories to share. Our lives are journeys and the story isn’t the end of the road, it’s how we get there. Which means we don’t have to wait until we’re old and gray to have something valuable to say.