• Jake Russell

What’s the Story?

A gleeful Easter to you all, a sparkling Passover. It might not feel like it, but it’s Festival Time. And what’s a festival if not a ritualised form of story?

In a fitting twist of contextual neatness, the first major fiestas to fall within young King Covid’s reign feature tales of plague and resurrection.

Passover starts with the Notorious G.O.D. spitting 10 dirty curses on the Egyptian, slavery-addiction-afflicted massive, affording satisfactory distraction for the Israelite faction to flee Pharaoh’s heavy metal fetters and cross the miraculously parted seas.

Meanwhile, over on the Easter Stage, it’s Humble J.C. & His Rather Surprising Revival following a final performance that’s truly crucified leading his public to believe he’s a spent and buried force. Not so as it goes: the world’s not three days older, the stone’s rolled over and the original front man’s back up for an encore.

Notorious G.O.D. and Humble J.C. with their sea-parting, party-re-starting, rock-unblocking beats. Two of the biggest festival headliners, amongst many, in history.

But as Judeo-Christian Spring Break Fest 2020 comes to an unusual, sombre close, we might well be tempted to ask where our own goddamn miracle deliverance is.

Because if there is a god, whether a bearded man in heaven or his resurrecting son, a multi-limbed deity, Muhammad or another one, he’s clearly taken one last look and said, “ahh, fuck this, I’m off to have a nap.”

We’d do well to remember the stories of Easter and Passover are just that, though—stories. Parting seas and resurrecting Jesus probably didn’t happen. And so to wait around hoping for safe passage from some fairy tale type god might, I’d guess, leave you waiting for quite some time.

And yet, to dismiss these stories as ungodly splodge would equally miss the point.

Might these stories, like all good tales, exist to remind us of our own strength? Our own inner god? Our own heroic quest?

The hero as an archetype, as Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell would attest, follows some version of the same journey—one we’ve all seen a thousand times on the screen, stage or page:

The young hero heeds a call to action and sets off on a sacred quest. Beset by fiends and ne’er-do-wells he meets an unlikely ally who becomes a mentor and a friend. Together they journey onward and defeat their many foes. Victory comes at some expense though, usually a painful death, which precipitates a climactic battle pitting hero against the beast, a snarly gnarly monster, the embodiment of his fears. To overcome the monster, he has to go within and dig deep, to find some long-lost treasure, the key to victory. And in killing the big bad monster he sheds his childish self, to return home grown, reborn, self-realised, a true hero in the end.

The reason we’ve seen it a thousand times is its universality, its archetypal truth. It speaks to some meta reality, some collective unconsciousness, to which we’re all undoubtedly connected.

Isn’t that the purpose of such stories? To act as a shamanic-like connection between dimensions? Between this earthly realm and something Higher? To remind us that our day-to-day experience isn’t where it ends, but should we choose to remain open, there’s more to consciousness yet?

That deep within each of us exists the divinity of god (or call it what you will).

And what is that divinity if not pure and abundant love?

That, in my opinion, is the point of stories.

As my dear dead dad would’ve said, it’s all theatre, it’s all good television. In other words, it’s all a story. I think he was right.

We’re all so busy running around in our own quotidian dramas we forget we’re beings of energy, of miraculous atoms and light. We forget to stop and consider the mathematical improbability of our own existence which is somehow coupled with the infinite probability of the opposite—a contradiction so astonishing it’s enough to send my head spinning.

And speaking of spinning, here we are on this Earth, this tiny spec of life, spinning at some absurd speed around a gigantic ball of flames. That’s no sci-fi flick, no biblical tall tale, it’s simply stating facts. And yet so commonplace and mundane have those facts become, we forget how miraculous they really are. How miraculous we all are.

So maybe we need stories, big, dramatic stories with set-piece visual effects where seas part and the dead resurrect to simply get our attention, to remind us that miracles exist.

Maybe those cunning bible writers knew what all good Hollywood producers know today – big blockbuster special effects sell. Then beneath all the showstopping razzmatazz there’s an underlying essence, a collective truth: we, each of us, have this divine heroism at the very centre of our own stories.

Interestingly, the parallels between those mightily unlikely tales of Easter or Passover and our own current saga, of rather biblical proportions, are curious to say the least. One interpretation of today’s prevailing plotline reads thus:

Plague befalls us. The death of many thousands leads to the death of societal life as we know it. Entombed in our homes (albeit with endless boxsets while poor old Jesus only had a rock to watch), forced to endure a period of quarantine (literally 40 days), of relative isolation and abstinence, we await resurrection, freedom, the opportunity to emerge and begin again.

By all means wait around for the Father Christmas, gift-giving mythical saviour version if you want (you’ll be waiting a lot longer than Christmas though, I bet), or, instead, listen for the call to action and look within for your heroic, godly, self.

If nothing else, it’ll make for a much more compelling story.

And in the meantime, and as ever, I wish you love in the time of quarantine,

Jake x

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