Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

How to Make a Myth


This past weekend, I was visiting with a very elderly relative.

Our conversation started with gardening, which led a discussion of the weather, then on to the science of digging wells, then to how water flows underground, to dowsing, and then finally to concerns about our drought.  We talked about a nearby creek bed that is dry most of the year and serves only as a place where rain water from winter storms runs off to the sea.

Then my relative shared a story about the creek.  Decades ago, his grandfather-in-law told him a story that he had heard as a child from an elderly woman.  The elderly woman had related that when she was young, there was enough water in the creek to row a boat all the way from the sea to the city — about 10 miles.

My point in sharing this has nothing to do with creeks or boats or drought.  My point is that I was listening to an account of an event that happened about 200 years ago.  I don’t know about you, but I think it is amazing that this minor little event, a tiny strand of a memory, has threaded its way down six or seven generations.

Factual events happen and become stories told to the next generation.  As they get passed along through the years, they may become legends, until finally — if the events are great enough– become myths and flow into the river of our collective unconscious.

I don’t think this boat ride will become a myth, but then again, there is something of a Garden of Eden quality about the story:  “Once upon a time, in the days when water flowed freely and everything was green and lovely, a girl-child went on a boat ride……”

ljg (c) 2013.

4 thoughts on “How to Make a Myth

  1. What a lovely beginning…

    • Love this–One of my favorite things has always been listening to stories told by older people. I love to connect myself to the past with their stories. Even dates have more meaning that way–my great grandmother who always had Thanksgiving at our house was born when Lincoln was in the White House..

  2. That is a beautiful opening line, yes. I have to smile when people throw up their hands and complain that knowledge and stories are in peril because it is all stored on computers and what happens when it all breaks down? Nothing will be lost ever, as long as we don’t lose out ability to share the stories in out heads.

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