Seven Billion Stories, and One / by Kendall R


Dirty World on a Thread, originally uploaded by iamkr.
A few days back I was waking up with the sun, sipping coffee and, somehow in that half awake state, the thought came into my head that there must be nearly seven billion people on the planet by now. A few days later the New York Times posted an article about a United Nations estimate says the planet would reach that number by week’s end. Though it might seem my brain channels the New York Times or the United Nations, it is not so.

Contrary to the political, economical and geographical shifts that the Times articles addresses with such a population, in my small little spot on the couch at dawn, I thought about Story. I thought how there are numerous people within a few hundred meters of where I sat waking, or putting off waking, to a new day that will be seen through their eyes in a particular way, with interactions and movements and emotions that will be somewhat dictated by interactions, emotions, justices and injustices inflicted upon them or by them from the previous day, month and years. There are things that happened in some other place they used to call home that made them feel like they could conquer the world or that felt like the world already conquered them. They have fathers or mothers, uncles or friends that sparked their fire or wounded their soul in a unique manner that eventually brought them to this moment at dawn on a new day.

Beyond those few hundred meters, and further out into the global reach, I thought how there are close to 7,000,000,000,000 other stories starting or ending, with their own set of plot twists, being told in their own unique way, such a unique way that it will never be told again. That’s a lot of stories.

I am not as brave as the Atheists and Darwinists, and so consider the Author that is writing these stories, intermingling them, doing his/her own version of a “cross-over” show. I consider all the books I have read with all their characters and plots and can hardly remember the details of most. The ones I do recall stand out, most likely, because I resonate with an aspect of their story or they remind me of who I hope to be while, also, reminding me of who I am not. But even then, I only remember a portion of their tale, and that is merely a fictional character. I can’t keep track of it all the way the Author does.

Which brings me back to that morning as I pondered the seven billion. What it must be like to see all those stories at once and alone. What a delight must come from such an experience. Though I am not even in the same galaxy of all-knowing and all seeing, I know and see plenty of stories right around me in the small town in which I live. Unfortunately, I miss their telling more than I would like because I am far too self-absorbed in trying to figure out where my own story is headed. More to the point, in doing so I miss how their story and my story are telling One even bigger than either of us can wrap our imaginations around(and I say “imagination” as opposed to “mind” because in my experience the mind does quite a share of restricting whimsy and wonder, which are the playgrounds of the imagination.)

I will never grasp what seven billion means. It is far too abstract a size when it comes to people’s lives. I can’t even grasp the hundred thousand in my small town. It’s complicated and beautiful. And so are we. Even on a given day, over a cup of coffee sitting on the couch in the shadows as the sun comes up once again, reminding me that it rises on the good and the evil, the rich and the poor, the ones I know and the ones half a world away in an utterly different culture and language I will never know. And that is grace for the receiving in a story, and especially so a World, much in need of it.


"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it." - Martha Graham