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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

The LullaFrights Are Here

Creation stories offer a glimpse into the worldview of a people, of how they understand themselves, their place in the world, and the ideals to which they aspire.  Likewise, the collective fears and deepest values of a people are also seen in the visage of the monsters they create.  Born of our fears and our failings.

—Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

A few years ago, we began hearing from people about the stories they were told as children, stories to keep them in line, scary tales to teach them to conform to the culture of their families. Most were harmless, but others were downright scarring. We resonated with this concept even though both our sets of parents weren’t big on ghosts, unless you count the holy ghost (which we do) who was referred to as the holy spirit to avoid confusion with other spectral beings. Still, we could see the way they employed stories and cautionary tales to keep us in line. It seemed natural. Maybe that’s part of how children learn boundaries and safe behavior. Maybe that’s what it’s like growing up in a religious household in the 80’s. Maybe it’s the way an event changes itself into a story the minute it passes into memory. In one memory, three brothers tossed a rope over a limb to create a swing and were told to take it down before they hung themselves. In another memory, they were told that a young boy hung himself in that same tree and that’s where the rope came from. Our stories may hang more closely on our own beliefs about another’s motivation than we like to think.

Over time, these stories got relegated to family get-togethers, holding your breath when you go through a tunnel, confessions when you’re three drinks in with complete strangers and a fear of spiders. Harmless, quirky insights into how you were raised. Add some oxygen and a spark, though, and these beliefs became a fire, a fence, a funeral you won’t cry at.

The plot of every monster story hangs on whether you believe there is a monster.

We are in a precarious moment, a place and time of uncertain footing and admittedly perilous outcomes. Our deepest beliefs about ourselves and others have become the tinder of political campaigns, conspiracy theories and the evening news. We are in a time of disagreement over the very nature, the color, the shape of our monsters. We can’t even agree on if this monster is good or bad, much less how to stop it.

These are the stories of our fears and of our failings.

What story controls you?

Listen to Be Good, Little Children; The LullaFrights, Vol. 1.

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