Sep 13

Reporting for Duty – Soliders’ Double Identy

Soldiers switch hats between two lives and identities. Military life and civilian life.

Military life commands a call to duty. A call to service. It also means following orders.

Civilian life clamors for flexibility and spontaneity. Usually missing a designated chain of command and training manuals.

Uniforms, uniformity and orders dominate soldiers lives. Soldiers follow orders. They go where they are directed. They provide service where and when they are needed.

Answering a call to duty soldiers leave their civilian life and their identity behind. For most soldiers, it will be 12 to 18 months before they return home. Before they become part-time civilians again.

Until then, civilian life remains civilian life.

What’s for dinner? 
The neighbor called, grandma escaped again.
Who used my toothbrush?
What, you flunked 1st grade again?
It’s not my fault the dog ate the turkey. 

Rather like jumping out of a canoe mid-river, the soldier reports for duty. The family re-adjusts.  New roles are taken. A new chain of command forms. The family moves on, no longer interrupted by the missing soldier. 

Expecting things to be the same as when they left ,soldiers meet the challenge of being strangers in a life they once knew. Leaving a canoe mid-river was easier than getting back in 12 to 18 months later in a completely different place.

Until next time . . . Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

About Grace Wolbrink

Festival of the Arts: A red and white striped tent with the words Storytelling draped across the front signaled the location of my first, official storytelling performance. Enthusiastic story listeners of all ages began filling rows of standardized metal folding chairs and multi-colored carpet squares. Once filled, curious onlookers peered in from the opened flaps. My five-year daughter and I take the stage. Silence fills the air. Audience members lean back. Their shoulders relax as they prepare to hear yet another mysteriously enchanting and engaging story. With the last story being told, audience’s resounding applause begins to fade. Streams of delighted listeners’ step forward. Enthusiastic voices fill the air: “Thank you! I loved your stories! Glad you were here!” . . . Relishing in the honored glow of a performance well done, we say our final good-byes. Stepping off stage I am greeted by a middle aged man, dressed in blue, carrying two folding chairs; one in each hand. Politely, he requests a moment of my time. Anxiously, I agree. Once seated, he smiles briefly. In the extending moments of time which follow he tells me of a performer who demonstrates tremendous potential in an art and art form she seemingly knows nothing about. Formally, awkwardly, we exchange our good-byes. Standing here in stunned silence, I stare into the empty rows of metallic chair across from me. The previous emotional high ignited at the hands of our audience’s delighted, resounding applause now rivals the infamous mind-numbing chatter of an all too familiar: . . . “If only I would of . . .; I know I could of . . .; I just should of . . .” Yet somehow, out of nowhere, in-between the predictable, yet inspirational words of literature’s litany and the uncertain carnage of its oral word traditions; my storytelling journey begins. A journey that will someday lead me into discovering the answers to these all-important questions: • What is storytelling? • What is a storyteller? • How do I, or does anyone else, tell a story without memorizing someone else’s published, literary words? Having completed nearly a decade of graduate and post graduate training, I spent considerable time collecting stories from people living under various types of oppressed conditions. Yet, sitting here, in this moment, I realized two things. First, I knew nothing about the art and artistry of storytelling; an art form and a venue I had neither experienced nor encountered before. Second, I had based my performance on what I thought storytelling was: the memorization of someone else’s literary words; crafted in the language and format, specifically designed for written word communication. In gratitude and appreciation to this man, whose name escapes me, but whose courage does not, I began my journey into the world of storytelling and the artistry of story development. For it is through this journey, coupled with the dedicated coaching and guided inspiration from my no longer four-year-old daughter, I decided to write this book as an experiential guide into the art of storytelling and the artistry of story development. As for me, thank goodness yesterday’s news is in the past . . . burned, recycled, outdated or simply expired . . . what-ever or however; it’s gone. A new journey unfolds. Today’s headlining news now reads . . . Story Artistry Rocks, Rules and Drools! For through my personal journey into the world of storytelling and storytellers I realized two things. First – storytelling is truly an art form and storytellers are truly artists. The second is how the stories we choose to tell are part of us; a part of who we are as unique individuals immersed in the reality of our own lives. Each story eloquently encompasses the nuances of personality, adventure, quirks and the I-can’t-believe-it-actually-happened moments in life. For in story as in life, its characters’ are as outlandishly adventurous, deviously mischievous and outrageously zany as any of us truly are. For it is here, in the truth of this reality, where the captivating and compelling power of story lies.
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