Just like the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, as the popular saying goes, it is indeed true that a tale begins with a single word. That first word, or even first line, is important.
It’s like opening a door to a foreign place, or being at the foot of an elongated hill. It is like feeling the texture and weight of a container before removing the layers. It is the first impression.
I say this because when we think about storytelling in all its forms, especially the stories within our own lives, we give special thought to beginnings- how we met someone, our feelings and thoughts on this first meeting. We remember not only how relationships began, but how we got into a job or a certain school, or what we were doing when we first heard a song we now love. We hear how things start.
The power in beginnings lie in their ability to influence our feelings. For example, as a fan of some of Nicki Minaj’s music, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard her collab song, ”Right By My Side.” I remember I was on the bus, aged 16, during the summer after my secondary education. I was on my way to the second week of a residential with summer youth programme, The Challenge. I was nervous about boys (I had gone to an all-girls’ school), my clothes, and whether I was going to be late. To ease the nerves, I began scrolling through Spotify, having never used the app before and wondering where I had been all this time. I found “Right By My Side” after some exploring. From the moment I heard it, I just knew it was going to become one of my favourite songs. The way it made me feel, the way it synthesised all the nervous excitement and sudden self-consciousness into a catchy tune. Even the way it was easy on my ears and built my confidence a little.
This may sound like an exaggeration, but hearing the song made me believe that exciting things were about to happen. In many ways, “Right By My Side” has influenced my love for the rap and hip-hop genre. The song was the beginning of that new musical interest, and it tells its own story. That story has shaped the beginning and continuity of my own.
Isn’t that how all stories begin, because of another story? Like cause and effect: The cat went into the attic and hid inside a cupboard, so it’s owners had to spend hours looking for it, getting into all sorts of trouble.
And this is the beginning of my blog, my very first post. Wowee. So since I brought up the topic of when I first heard a song, I’ll finish with the first lines of some of my other favourites.
What are some of your favourites? And do you remember what you were doing when you first heard them? How did it feel? Let me know in the comments!
1. “Tale as old as time…True as it can be” –
Celine Dion, ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
2. “One more stop ‘fore the world stop” –
Ty Dolla $ign, ‘Three Wayz.’
3. “Have you ever felt so strong…That it made you feel weak” –
Alicia Keys, ‘How It Feels To Fly.’
4. “Swinging in the backyard…Pull up in your fast car, whistling my name” –
Lana Del Rey, ‘Video Games.’
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”- Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees