To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the un-rightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
All my life I have loved the stories of the great heroic quest, fairytales, King Arthur, Lord of the Rings
As a child I longed to go on the adventure, to take up the sword, ride the dragon or plant the magic beans, to face the giant, battle the balrog and meet the challenge
That song to Dream the Impossible Dream by Leigh & Darrion seemed to say it all. And it was possibly the most popular song to sing on TV talent shows when I was growing up. In the 60 & 70s, New Faces and Showcase were our versions of X-factor and Idol… and there were two types of contestants that left a lasting memory for me….
Young boys of Italian heritage with impossible smiles, faces full of hope and promise playing the piano accordion….
And middle aged or older men, looking uncomfortable in their new shiny suits, singing to dream the impossible dream.
The Unreachable Star
And I could see, that those contestants they too longed for an impossible dream, most of them probably lived ordinary lives… and appearing on National TV, facing a panel of judges, was a brave step on their quest to be seen and heard and perhaps one day reach the unreachable star…or be that unreachable star
As the youngest of 4 children I also longed to be heard and to be seen. Whether it was true or not, in my childish heart I felt forgotten, overlooked and unheard. One day, I don’t remember why but I hid in my cupboard all day and no-one came looking for me!
Of course, no-one in the family believed I was forgotten… Mum always said that I could not walk through the loungeroom without making it dramatic, I think it was my way of saying, see me, hear me!
Again, I can’t say whether it was true or not but in my teenage heart I felt forgotten, sitting out the front of the house waiting for my car rides to arrive… I remember thinking that they wouldn’t come… they had forgotten me. I felt as insignificant as a hobbit.
I married young and started a family, my husband, he had a voice, a loud voice and a temper to match…I did not compete, I could not compete, I could not confront and I could not voice my hurt, my anger, my frustration or tears…. During those years, I lived the hero’s journey vicariously through fantasy novels as I relinquished the power of my voice.
Oh I still had a voice but it was a thin whiny imitation and oh how I whined and told the same story to friends & family, to anyone who would listen…over & over again
A New Path
Then one day, an acquaintance, like a wise woman met unexpectedly in the woods spoke 6 simple words “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. Those words cut through the tangled hedge that strangled my life!
At 40 years old, I saw a new path. I divorced, completed Open Foundation and began University…
Oh how I loved it and hated it. My voice was weak & insipid with lack of use, I could barely speak in class… or if I did speak it was accompanied by heart palpitations, shaking and blushing blood red. So, I developed a strategy. Prepare something intelligent to say, and get in fast, say it first, then sit back and rest on my laurels, trusting I wouldn’t be asked unexpectedly to contribute anything else. It worked…most of the time.
After university, I wrote a children’s book The Elf that Flew… but I didn’t want to just read it to children, I wanted the characters to live, I needed to give them voices so they didn’t just have to tell the same story over and over again like I had… and so I googled oral storytelling.
Next thing I knew I was participating in a storytelling workshop with the Australian Storytelling Guild NSW…. I palpated, shook and blushed through games, and exercises… I was way out of my comfort zone… and I oh, how l hated it. And oh, how I loved it.
I went back again and again, I found my calling, my quest, to be a storyteller. I longed to tell tales… I could feel stories, straining like dragons in my chest, fighting to fly free…. But my lips were locked shut. I swallowed the stories like bitter pills.
I am a Storyteller
In the solitude of my bedroom I announced to the universe “I am a Storyteller”
And like a fairy godmother the universe soon delivered many storytelling
Opportunities “umm not ready yet, I’m not ready yet”. And this continued for a long
while until another wise woman, this one deep within me spoke more magic… “Every
quest begins with one small yes.”
And so… I vowed (if you are undertaking a quest you must make a sacred vow) I
vowed to say yes… to all storytelling opportunities and I did. Oh, it was a small
squeaky “yes” at first, and my heart palpitated, my hands shook and my face
blushed blood red and I said “YES” again, and again…
Most of us will not battle a fire belching balrog, but perhaps our quests are the
Millions of smaller challenges we face everyday…to take up the sword and cut
through our self imposed limitations, to ride our dragons of potential, to plant the
magic beans of our impossible dreams and climb the bean stalk to that unreachable
Perhaps heroes are not mighty armour clad warriors, but we small scared
vulnerable people who say a small, squeaky yes to Life’s challenges….and each time
we say yes our voices become stronger & deeper as our voices journey from our
heads to our hearts and bellies…till our voices firmly rooted rise….
Then we can say with every fibre of our being:
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one woman, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with her last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
"The Impossible Dream"from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)
music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion