The first morning of STORY – a conference for creatives – I was struck by how alike all of these original people were. The skinny jeans, fitted plaid or striped tops, scarves, beards – the latter only on the men of course. And besides that, most of us carried our Nolan Bags as well, the hand-stitched, each-unique, cloth bags stuffed with goodies that we were given upon registration instead of some plastic, throwaway kind. It’s a very. cool. bag. But still, I had to smile at us, so proud of our artistic bent, our unique creative energy and personal brand – all looking pretty much exactly the same.
But today, glad to be home yet a little restless with the feeling that only yesterday I was on the sidewalks of Chicago and three days ago I sat in a room with Sean Astin, I keep making up excuses to go out just so I can put that soft, familiar strap over my shoulder and remember that I’m part of a tribe.
It’s a tribe of subversives, Ian Cron told us. Because
When the front door of people’s intellect is closed, you sneak in the back door of their imaginations.
Ed Saxon affirmed our creative hopes by reminding us that stories help us see another person. “They make us behave better to each other. ” This wasn’t ironic in light of the fact that Saxon was the producer of Silence of the Lambs. It was beautiful.
It’s a tribe that wants to fight the loss of wonder that creeps in during adulthood so we can be children again, roaring like dinosaurs, dreaming ridiculous dreams (Blaine Hogan). It’s a tribe of doubters who are broken and disappointed but never hopeless, because the broken and doubting and disappointed are the people sought by God.*
As we took in all that goodness and permission this week we were in Chicago. And as a new friend of mine said, of STORY and of Chicago, “You both were good for our souls.”So if you see me wearing the bag, just know I’m connecting to Chicago, to quote after quote giving me the permission to create every day, to create well, and to make a difference with the things I create. I’m connecting to the tribe, hoping to tell the stories that remind us, in the words of Samwise Gamgee,
There is still good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.
*This one’s from Darren Whitehead, speaking about Jesus’ final forty days on earth and the people he sought during them.