Monday, April 6, 2015

Sound of story most dominant in brightest and darkest moments

Photo by Michael Pelzer at Cocoa Beach, Florida
By Michael J. Morris
I am one of those most blessed people who have never really worked one day because I have been able to spend it living, in the words of Reynolds Price, the American writer, with the sound of story as the dominant sound in my life.
Since I was a child growing up in the small community of Chapleau in northern Ontario, story has been central to me whether I was playing in the living room or creating my own plays for the Junior Red Cross Society performances in Grade 4 at Chapleau Public School.
Thanks to my mother, Muriel E (Hunt) Morris, who instilled a love of reading in me before I could hardly walk, and gave me the freedom to explore all the great children's literature of my time, story has been the place where I have lived.
Little did I realize that my experience as the Chapleau High School reporter for the long gone Mid North News, and a television program on CHAP TV in 1958/1959 would lead to a lifetime spent telling stories and talking about the stories of others in classrooms in Ontario and British Columbia. And people even hired me to write stories about people and events for daily newspapers, television, magazines and the internet.
I recently calculated that I have been doing and teaching communications, journalism, media and  creative writing for 55 years. It seems like only a moment has passed.
Now I begin another chapter with the launching of The Mainstreeter.
I  worked as a reporter and/or editor at several daily newspapers including the Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon), Kingston Whig-Standard, Timmins Daily Press, Chatham Daily News, Brampton Times, Calgary Albertan  and was northern Ontario correspondent for the Toronto Star.
And yes, as any of my students would  tell you, I loved to tell stories. Not all were necessarily appreciated of course and I was once criticized in student evaluations when I was at College of the Rockies for talking too much about my beloved cat Buckwheat. A student wrote that he/she got nothing from my course because "All he ever did was tell stories about his cat Buckwheat." Even I could not spend 15 entire weeks of a semester talking only about my cat. On second thought ....
At College of the Rockies I was so privileged to have been part of the founding of a New Media Communications Program which would seem pretty old fashioned today, but in 1995 was on the leading edge of the biggest revolution in communications since Gutenberg's printing press. Since retiring I have continued to indulge my passion for communications -- for storytelling, both mine and others.
I also taught at Chapleau High School.
For example, I  listen to the voices of so many former students who are taking time to share part of their stories with me on Facebook, and telling stories about me too. For the past six years I have been a blogger and I also write a column for the weekly newspaper in my home town of Chapleau. Yes, for old times sake I still write for a print publication.
I agree with Reynolds Price, the writer, that to "tell and hear stories is essential" -- and he argues it comes second after nourishment and before love and shelter. "Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths."
In my life for sure, in the brightest and darkest moments, the sound of story is the dominant sound. Think about it. Now I am off for a walk to hear more of the sound of the  story on Main Street. If we meet, please feel free to say hello. Also, my email is mj.morris@live.ca  I am also on Facebook.


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