H. A. Byrd

Old Stories 

Traditional tales teach us how to behave. Long ago we figured out that some things are better to learn from a story than life experience.

These stories tell us, clearly, that we live for a purpose.

They give context about things we need to know deep inside, such as our connection to others; and that the blood of mother earth is the lava, it is the water, and that it is our own blood.

When we started writing stories down, we lost something. Traditional tales, handed down, these were alive. Fluid and flexible, the narration would vary with the teller, and with each time the story was recounted. Often the meat of the story could change with the times, but the bones of it stayed firm in tradition, phrases and ideas repeated by generations. The spirits of the story inhabit the storyteller, looking out of the eyes, manipulating the body. This is a timeless connection.

But the printing press was a marvelous thing. When books became available to many, across cultures and across the miles too, it opened up the world the way the internet has connected us today.

Without the miracle of printed words, I never would have known Cervantes. I fell in love with him when I was eleven or twelve. I had a copy of Don Quixote de La Mancha. It was so old, I thought it must be an original translation. There wasn’t internet in those days. How could I know the story was written at the dawn of the seventeenth century?

Don Quixote remains my hero, and I’m not embarrassed to say so. To do what feels right, and to live true, no matter the fashion—Alonso may have been out of his mind, but then that’s the point, isn’t it. Madness is relative.

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